Warriors v Rabbitohs Preview

Warriors v Rabbitohs
Mt Smart Stadium
Sunday 4pm (NZ Time)

While many teams have Origin excuses this weekend, the Warriors and Rabbitohs are near full strength and therefore should provide us with an almighty clash over in Auckland.

Only Bunny Dave Taylor is away for the interstate series, giving us a real treat on Sunday afternoon.

Both sides have found their ways into the top eight but are far from solidified finals contenders; however, this match could go a long way to substantiating either club's worth.

The home side Warriors come into the clash in seventh position on the NRL ladder thanks to a win over the Cowboys last weekend, but a loss here could have them right back out of the finals zone.

In a huge blow, Manu Vatuvei is out once again, with his place on the wing to be taken by Bill Tupou.

On a positive note, the side welcomes back captain Simon Mannering in the second row, which pushes Lewis Brown back to the bench.

The Rabbitohs travel across the Tasman full of confidence after hammering the Wests Tigers at the SCG last weekend, a result that has them sitting pretty in fifth place.

A win against the Warriors could mean a place in the top four; however, a loss could see them once again fighting amongst the pack to be in the top eight.

Prop and captain Roy Asotasi is out, with Scott Geddes slated to start in his place, and Garrett Crossman comes onto the bench.

Taylor's place in the second row has been given to Eddy Pettybourne, bringing Michael Crocker onto the bench.

Luke Capewell will travel as an 18th man.

Watch out Warriors:
The Rabbitohs are obviously firing on all cylinders offensively but something to be specifically mindful of is their ability to turn defence into attack.

The South Sydney side has five tries directly from turnovers, the most of any side in the NRL, ensuring the Warriors must react quickly if they make an error.

Killing the loose ball has extra significance against the Bunnies; should they get lazy you can be sure the Rabbitohs’ players won't die wondering. If there is a remote chance they can get it to speed men against a disjointed defensive line, they will make it happen.

Watch out Rabbitohs: The tag-team hookers for the Warriors are making a nice little niche for themselves and are beginning to pose a real threat to opposition teams.

Ian Henderson and newly deputised Kiwi Test player Aaron Heremaia create two types of worrying styles at different times in matches. Heremaia is running for 69 metres a game, Henderson a further 52 metres. And both can kick if called upon to do so in a pinch.

Heremaia has five line-breaks for the season – two from dummy-half – with Henderson adding another one. Heremaia also has a line-break assist and try plus three try assists. The Rabbitohs have their own Kiwi star hooker in Issac Luke, setting up a great little battle.

Where it will be won: Good old-fashioned defence is what is needed here. Both teams can score points – particularly the Rabbitohs – but shutting down opposite numbers will be key.

The Rabbitohs are currently ineffective in defence more often than the Warriors (approximately 18 per cent of the time against 15 per cent of the time) but have scrambled a little better to concede one try less. Chris Sandow and Sam Burgess could harden up to miss fewer tackles, although Sandow is streets ahead of previous years. With little Origin disruption for the sides there are no excuses defensively. The side that muscles up and belts the other will go on and win.

Both sides have shown they can be intimidated somewhat in the past, so early physicality is what’s needed.

The history: Played 20; Warriors 14, Rabbitohs 6. The Warriors had the wood on the Bunnies for a long time but South Sydney have shown resolve in recent outings, winning the past three against the Kiwi-based side.

The Warriors hold a 6-4 advantage at Mt Smart Stadium against the Bunnies – although the last time they triumphed over the red and green at home was back in 2006.

Conclusion: The Rabbitohs come into the match in great form and look likely to prosper here – but it is in these situations where the club has often failed in the past.

The number of times South Sydney fans have had their hopes lifted and then shattered is in the millions, so be careful getting on the bandwagon.

The Warriors haven't been playing well of late, so it is a match Souths should win... which probably means they'll lose.

But let's look at the glass half full instead, and back them in.

Match Officials: Referees: Gavin Badger & Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials: Russell Turner & Gavin Reynolds; Video Ref: Chris Ward.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm (AEST).