Rising Rabbitohs look to hop up table against Battered Broncos

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South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos Friday 8:00pm at Accor Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park / Wanngal

After back to back losses that have led many people to question their standing as a premiership contender, the Broncos will look to bounce back on the road against a Souths side that looks to have put a slow start to 2024 behind them.

The Rabbitohs 46-12 thumping of the Titans showed they are a different team to the one that was rooted to 17th place in the first third of the season. Latrell Mitchell was at his brilliant best, with a try and three try assists to go with a strong kicking game, and he'll be looking to replicate that performance as he pushes for NSW selection. It wasn't just Mitchell of course - Jack Wighton had a try and try assist, Cody Walker picked up a TA alongside a brace, while Davy Moale, Tom Burgess and Richard Kennar all had four pointers to compliment strong performances.

The Bunnies are getting even stronger as well, with captain Cameron Murray set to return from the bench at the expense of Siliva Havili after a hip injury sidelined him since Round 9.

The Broncos meanwhile struggled mightily against the Sharks, Pat Carrigan and Payne Haas were both at their best, combining for 249 metres and 78 tackles while the former also bagged a rare try. But the rest of the team struggled mightily, with Ezra Mam, Selwyn Cobbo and Tristan Sailor really struggling to make any impact on the game, while their bench forwards were steamrolled by Cronulla.

The Broncos have also only made one change - Xavier Willison replaces Fletcher Baker, having missed the Sharks game to be at the birth of his child.

These two teams met in Round 2 of the season, where Brisbane ran out 28-18 winners. But that Brisbane team had star performances from Reece Walsh and Adam Reynolds, neither of whom are playing in the reverse fixture. Cobbo, Carrigan and Haas will need to replicate the strong performances they had that night for the Broncos to win in this one, while a stronger performance from Walker and the presence of Wighton could give the Bunnies an edge they didn't have then.

Brisbane's recent slide has seen their attack slide to an average of 25 points per game, good enough for 5th in the NRL. Their defence meanwhile is now leaking 21 points a game, which ranks 8th. Souths for comparison are 13th and 17th respectively, however that attacking number is beginning to rise and the defensive side, heavily impacted by blowouts earlier in the season, is slowly falling.

Last meeting: Round 2 2024 - Broncos 28 Rabbitohs 18

Who to watch: The return of Cameron Murray, even if it is off the bench, is a massive boost for the Rabbitohs. He wasn't at his best to start the season, averaging his fewest running metres since 2018 through his first 8 matches and the worst tackle efficiency of his career. But his leadership is intangible to the Bunnies, and with an Origin jersey on the line expect him to do whatever he can to hit the ground running.

The Broncos need Ezra Mam to step up if they want to win this one. He's been a bit of a mixed bag since halves partner Adam Reynolds tore his bicep, with strong performances against the Eels and Sea Eagles followed up by quiet performances against the Titans and Sharks. With no Reynolds or Reece Walsh, Mam playing at an elite level is almost a non-negotiable if the Broncos want to win football games.

The favourite: The Broncos are the preferred choice to win in this one.

My tip: This is either going to be a statement win by the Broncos, or the match where the masses realise the tide has truly shifted against them. I'm going to pick the former. Broncos by 8

1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Taane Milne 4. Richard Kennar 5. Jacob Gagai 6. Jack Wighton 7. Cody Walker 8. Davvy Moale 9. Damien Cook 10. Sean Keppie 11. Michael Chee Kam 12. Jai Arrow 13. Keaon Koloamatangi 14. Peter Mamouzelos 15. Tallis Duncan 16. Cameron Murray 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Dion Teaupa

1. Tristan Sailor 18. Josiah Karapani 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Selwyn Cobbo 5. Deine Mariner 6. Ezra Mam 7. Jock Madden 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Brendan Piakura 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Xavier Willison 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Jack Gosiewski 20. Israel Leota

Referees: Adam Gee; Sideline Officials: Matt Noyen, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Video Referees: Grant Atkins;

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