Round 16: Rabbitohs v Cowboys preview
Rampaging Rabbitohs look for eighth-straight victory while Cowboys play for pride.
Last time these two teams met at Barlow Park in Round 19 last year, South Sydney had just six wins while North Queensland had 10. How quickly things have changed. This time the Rabbitohs have 11 victories to their name from just 16 games while the Cowboys have only managed four.
South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold will know that complacency is the biggest obstacle his team will need to overcome if they are to bag their eighth-straight win on Sunday afternoon. In their last-start win over Parramatta, Souths lacked energy in the opening half before piling on the points in the second.
Coming up against the 13th placed Cowboys, the risk is if the Rabbitohs turn up expecting to be handed the victory. Fortunately they still have plenty to play with, with a minor premiership a real possibility given their easy run home.
While Souths fans will be confident of getting the two points on Sunday, their side has typically struggled against the Cowboys having only won two of their past 10 against the 2015 Premiers.
After finishing runners-up in last year's competition, many were expecting Paul Green's men to go one better in 2018.
Parrramatta have certainly been disappointing, yet the Cowboys have been the biggest let downs of the year and have now lost Michael Morgan for the rest of the season.
Fullback Lachlan Coote has been named to replace the Australian international and should be determined to impress coach Green given that he is currently on the outer at the club.
With little to play for other than pride, one of two things will happen.
Either, the Cowboys will continue their downward spiral with the lack of motivation being transferred onto the field. Or, it could see them compete with nothing to lose and that can often be a dangerous opponent.
The battle up front will be one to watch this week as the in-form Burgess brothers battle the barnstorming Cowboys lock forward Jason Taumalolo.
Last meeting: Round 11 2018 - Cowboys 19 Rabbitohs 20
Who to watch: A stellar performance from Damien Cook against the Cowboys in Round 11 cemented his position in the NSW Blues squad for Game 1. On that afternoon, Cook scored a try, ran for 85 metres, set up a try and busted five tackles. The Rabbitohs currently rank first in the competition for points scored and Cook's speed out of dummy-half has been a large reason for their success. The South Sydney rake will pose a significant threat to the North Queensland big men and has been integral to how easily the Rabbitohs' forward pack has rolled up field this year.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Lachlan Coote as he looks to prove why he is still first-grade material. The former Panther is set to fill in for the injured Michael Morgan for the rest of the year and will need to really step up this week if the Cowboys are to improve in attack. Morgan was instrumental in North Queensland's one-point loss to the Rabbitohs in Round 11, setting up two tries and breaking five tackles. With arguably their biggest attacking threat gone for the season, Coote must not just fill the void but own the fullback jersey if he wants a spot in Green's top seventeen in 2019.
The favourite: The Rabbitohs are favoured to make it eight in a row.