South Sydney v Newcastle preview

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South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newcastle Knights Saturday 5:30pm at Stadium Australia

Souths looking to Climb Higher as Knights season on life support.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Newcastle Knights will clash on Saturday evening in what could be a decisive game in the context of the season. Souths, whilst sitting in third on the ladder, have looked shaky at times having conceded 50 points or more twice already this season. South Sydney need to win these sorts of games against lower-ranked sides to stay in touch with the "big two" this year and prove that they still have what it takes to go all the way.  

The Knights season could be on the line on Saturday. They are only two points outside of the top eight as it currently stands, but they have looked very lacklustre so far this year. They're also coming off the back of a thumping at the hands of the Parramatta Eels last week on Old Boys Day. The fact that the team couldn't get up for the occasion highlights serious concerns for the Knights and they need to at least put up a good fight against the Rabbitohs this week, or it could be panic stations.  

South Sydney are coming off the bye last round, but coach Wayne Bennett has made changes to the side that defeated the Eels 38-20 in round 12. Origin stars Dane Gagai and Jai Arrow will not be backing up from the game on Wednesday night. Braidon Burns comes in at centre and Mark Nicholls will move to prop, after starting at lock last time out. Cameron Murray moves to lock and Jacob Host will be promoted from the bench to a starting position in the second-row. Origin back-rower Jaydn Su'a has been recalled to the bench after being dropped from the team for the game against Parramatta.  

The changes for the Knights start with Starford To'a out, which sees Enari Tuala move to the wing from the centres. Kurt Mann will move into the centres to fill the vacancy. A new look halves pairing of Jake Clifford and Phoenix Crossland have been picked to guide the team around the park. Daniel Saifiti will be a welcomed return in the front-row, backing up from origin, after his side were completely dominated in the middle last week. Suaso Sue drops back to the bench, with Matt Croker going back to the reserves to round out the changes.  

Last meeting: Finals Week 1 2020 - Rabbitohs 46 Knights 20

Who to watch: With a very young and unexperienced halves pairing, either one of the Rabbitohs second-rowers could have a field day running at them. Keaon Kolomatangi is a big body who will be extremely hard to stop close to the line, so look for the Rabbitohs to give him a lot of ball in that area of the field to get over the top of the much smaller bodies opposing him.

Backing up from origin, Daniel Saifiti simply has to turn up and put in a big performance for his club side this week. Against a front-row pairing of Mark Nicholls and Tavita Tatola, the Knights enforcer certainly has an opportunity to get his team on the front foot. He will need to do so if his side are any chance at a surprise win on Saturday night.

The favourite: Souths are heavy favourites to win this clash against two teams on the opposite end of the ladder.

My tip: South Sydney are coming off the bye, look better on paper and are at home. Seemingly, they have everything going their way to win this game. The Knights, you would think, have to be desperate to get the win and a rude shock could catch South Sydney out if the Knights can stand their ground against them. Still, in recent weeks there hasn't been a lot of desperation shown by the Knights and it's hard to see them suddenly turning it around. South Sydney should simply be too good for the Knights to handle. South Sydney by 14.

1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Braidon Burns 4. Campbell Graham 5. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 14. Benji Marshall 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jacob Host 16. Hame Sele 15. Jaydn Su'A 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Liam Knight 23. Peter Mamouzelos 20. Blake Taaffe

1. Tex Hoy 2. Enari Tuala 3. Kurt Mann 4. Bradman Best 21. Dominic Young 14. Connor Watson 6. Jake Clifford 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Brodie Jones 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 15. Sauaso Sue 13. Mitchell Barnett 16. Josh King 17. Jack Johns 20. Mathew Croker 18. Gehamat Shibasaki

Referees: Chris Butler; Sideline Officials: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Mark Bohan; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy;

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