Round 22: Rabbitohs v Bulldogs preview
Saturday night football heads to ANZ Stadium as the South Sydney Rabbitohs - who currently sit in fourth spot - play host to the second-last placed Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, who themselves are looking for their third straight victory.
The Rabbitohs will be expecting an easier time this weekend after coming off a 26-16 defeat to the first placed Melbourne Storm in Gosford, where the cardinal and myrtle were matching it with the Storm at times, but couldn't pull off the victory by the palm trees. The Bunnies' form has been questionable over recent weeks with the Gosford defeat being their second in a row, after falling to a 39-24 loss to Cronulla, which itself came off a less-than-convincing victory over the Dragons.
South Sydney have had mixed form this season, with the side being consistently around the top four, but they have been up and down in their performances and have the lowest points differential of the sides that make up the four. They'll be hoping that they can improve on recent results with the clash against the Bulldogs being one that could help boost their for and against.
Canterbury have been disappointing overall this season and sit second last on the NRL ladder, after being picked to improve this season compared to their less than ideal 2018. Despite mixed performances across the season, they come into Saturday's contest on the back of two straight victories, with wins over the Panthers and Tigers in recent weeks. The Bulldogs last week had to come from 8-0 down to go up 18-8 and eventually scramble their way to an 18-16 win.
Bulldogs fans have delivered criticism of their team in copious amounts and whilst no doubt their form has been very ordinary, there has been plenty of good signs for them going forward. They've given themselves enough of a gap from the Wooden spoon spot and in recent weeks have found players such as Jack Cogger finding form, giving the 'Dogs a chance to leap into 13th with a win should results go their way this weekend.
Who to watch: Rabbitohs enforcer Sam Burgess has been in the news for the wrong reasons, with his recent trip to the judiciary and injuries playing their part. Sam will be need to be at his best if he wants to bring the comments about his game back to the on-field footy and not reputational issues. He's had an interrupted season with multiple injuries, but the Bunnies will need him firing at the back-end of the season if they want to be there deep into the finals.
Bulldogs five-eighth Jack Cogger has really stepped up his game in recent weeks and has been impressive in the 'Doggies past two wins. Cogger has made 16 appearances for Canterbury this season since moving from Newcastle, but it has only been the past two weeks where he has stepped up. He's taken a leading role for the Dogs over the past fortnight, during which he was able to score a try against the Panthers and set up one last weekend in the win over the Wests Tigers..
The favourite: The Rabbitohs head into the match as favourites as a result of their ladder position and despite differences in form it's expected the higher ranked team will dominate. The Bulldogs lead the head-to-head battles between the two sides but the Rabbitohs have won the past two contests and restricted the Dogs into just the one try in each of those games.
My tip: South Sydney should be able to take the win but it won't be an easy contest for them because the Bulldogs have showed they can be nuisance value at the backend of the season. The Rabbitohs will need to be at their best to take an easy win but Canterbury's inconsistency within games could be swooped on by the Bunnies. Rabbitohs by 12.