Full Time
7:50pm Thu June 16, 2022
Round 15 - WIN Stadium, Wollongong / Dharawal - Crowd: 11257

Round 15: Dragons v Rabbitohs preview

Shape of Top 8 set to take place

The St George Illawarra Dragons will host the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Thursday night at WIN Stadium, Wollongong, hoping to bounce back from a dismal performance against the Cowboys and end Souths' two game winning streak.

It was a performance last week that Dragons fans disappointingly found all-too familiar, with a lacklustre attacking display compounded by a multitude of missed tackles resulting in a 31-12 defeat in the far North of Queensland.

Perhaps most disheartening, had the red and whites managed to claw their way to victory, they'd currently be sitting in the top 8. It is not the first time this season Red V fans have had to sit and mull over what could have been, with numerous losses this season seeing their side languish on the outskirts of the 8. The side seemed despondent and lacked any real go forward.

Anthony Griffin will be hoping to see greater desperation from his side this week as they go into a winnable game at home against a team also fighting to stay in the fight for the top 8.

With probably two of eight finals places still up for grabs at this stage of the season, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have done themselves no harm over the last three weeks in their quest to be centre stage come September.

They convincingly dismantled the Wests Tigers, collected two competition points from the bye, and backed up against the Gold Coast Titans last week with a 30-16 win.

Realistically, those are two games they would have been expected to win easily, even with the myrtle and cardinal's season being so up and down. They have an opportunity on Thursday night to really start to pull away from one of the team's vying for a top eight spot along with them.

This game could ultimately seal the fate of one of these team's seasons in the long run, meaning this clash should be full of passion and intensity.

In team news, Dragons coach Anthony Griffin named multiple changes to his 17 on Tuesday afternoon. The very talented Mat Feagai returns from illness, along with Mikaele Ravalawa on the other wing who is returning from a hamstring issue. Jack de Belin has moved to the front row, with Francis Molo vacating the spot and shifting to the bench. Jaydn Su'a starts again at second row for the first time since ANZAC Day, after returning from injury last week via the bench. Josh McGuire is out with a groin concern. Veteran Andrew McCollough will play game number 300 and start at hooker, with Moses Mbye dropping back to the bench utility role. Tariq Sims is back this week after being rested due to State of Origin duties last week and will play at lock.

There is only one changes for Souths coming into this game and it comes through the interchange. Peter Mamouzelos switches places with Blake Taaffe, with Taaffe coming into the bench utility role and Mamouzelos becoming 18th man.

Last meeting: Round 5 2022 - Rabbitohs 24 Dragons 12

Who to watch: After a week filled with criticism for his performances so far this season, Zac Lomax absolutely has to rebound. The young centre leads the competition in errors with 26, all of which have been handling errors. Most notably last week, Lomax another unnecessary flick pass, this time on his own 10 metre line, only to go to ground and be swooped on by Murray Taulagi to score. Look for Lomax to sure up his passing this week and get through plenty of work coming out of the back field in an attempt to make up for some of his performances this year.

Kodi Nikorima has an important role to play this week at fullback for the Rabbitohs. Ben Hunt is the equal leader in the competition for 40/20's so far this season, and for someone who is not a regular fullback, it may be difficult for Nikorima to set himself in the right position at the back every time. If Nikorima can nullify the impact of Hunt's long kicking game, a major cog in the Dragons' chances of winning will have been removed.

The favourite: Souths are favourites to win this one away from home.

My tip: This is a tough one to pick. Both sides have so much to play for coming into the game and have the chance to take two points off another side competing for a position in the top 8. Even more, both of these sides have shown that killer touch to beat teams they could very well have beaten this season. Neither of the sides have been overly impressive throughout the 2022 campaign so far and it's difficult to split them.

The Dragons have been bolstered by the return of some of their players this week, whilst Souths could be starting to build on their recent run of wins. I'm going to say the Dragons pull a rabbit out of the hat so to speak, only because they absolutely have to bounce back from last week and they're playing at home, whilst South Sydney's form might be deceiving as they've only taken down the Tigers and Titans. Dragons by 2.