Rabbitohs v Storm Preview

Rabbitohs v Storm
Members Equity Stadium, Perth
Saturday 7.30pm (WA Time, 9.30pm AEST)

This shapes up as a match for the Rabbitohs to make a statement: “No more are we your whipping boys. No more will we be second-class. Your domination over us ends here!”

After eight straight losses to the Storm, the Rabbitohs actually look like a side that could, and probably should, beat Melbourne.

Form might suggest otherwise – the Melbourne boys are coming off the back of a massive win over the Cowboys, while the Bunnies fell in a close one to Manly – but the quality of those games was as far apart as the kilometres the two teams will travel to get to Perth.

The Cowboys were abysmal against Melbourne, who went through a training run, while the Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs put up an exciting, brutal affair that was only decided by a field goal at the death (well, two actually).

With the Storm still playing for very little other than pride, this trip is more like a mid-season holiday for them; but for the Bunnies, who have fallen to seventh on the ladder, this is a match to reconsolidate their premiership credentials.

A loss will drop them to eighth and into the battle for finals places, while a win could potentially see them as high as fifth, with a nice little buffer over the chasing pack.

They have made no changes to the side that fell in the final moments against Manly and should be confident.

The Storm are still entertaining the masses with their exciting football and they will no doubt try to make it nine in a row against the Bunnies. The streak might well be a big part of the motivation for this one.

They have also kept a similar side, with Cameron Smith starting and Ryan Hinchcliffe going back to the bench. Rory Kostjasyn will make the trip as the 18th man.

Watch out Rabbitohs:
Greg Inglis is out of his funk and is back on a rampage. Obviously fired up by recent events, the pride is well and truly back in his performance and when he is hot, he is molten lava hot.

Last week in Origin II and then backing up for the Storm, Inglis scored two tries and three goals, added a line-break and two try assists and ran for a mammoth 338 metres. Some 222 of those metres came in last weekend’s club match!

With speed, strength, athleticism and one of the best fends in the business, the Rabbitohs’ defence needs to be on red alert.

Watch out Storm:
The Bunnies have built their game in 2010 around great go- forward and the mismatch in this regard is stark between these two teams. With 1421 metres gained a match the South Sydney side have the best go-forward in the NRL and they come up against a Storm side averaging just 1240metres each week, the fewest in the game.

The only Melbourne players nudging triple-figure metres averages are winger Mitch Duffie (111 metres), Inglis (100 metres), Aiden Tolman (111 metres), Sika Manu (102 metres) and Jeff Lima (100 metres).

Meanwhile, Souths have Sam Burgess (121 metres), Issac Luke (132 metres), Luke Stuart (117 metres), Rhys Wesser (128 metres) and Fetuli Talanoa (105 metres).

Where it will be won:
As potentially weird and specific as it sounds, this match will be won between the 20- and 50-metre lines.

These two sides are the best in the NRL at scoring tries from this mid-range distance, with the Rabbitohs scoring 16 tries so far this year and the Storm bagging 15.

In an area where defence sometimes clocks off a little, both the Rabbitohs and Melbourne have taken advantage, thanks mainly to two very astute hookers.

The Rabbitohs have conceded nine tries from the same distance this year, the Storm just four, so maybe they have a slight edge. It is imperative that the markers for both teams work extra hard, especially in the middle of the field, or Cameron Smith or Issac Luke will pounce.

The history:
Played 15; Rabbitohs 2, Storm 13. The Rabbitohs have now lost eight straight against the Storm, not winning since 2004 when they prevailed by just two points in Sydney.

The two teams played in Perth last season also, with the Storm winning 28-22 – by far the most points the Bunnies scored against Melbourne in their head-to-head losing streak.

Conclusion:
South Sydney can become a REAL contender with a win here. They are already in this competition up to their eyeballs, but winning this game would give them even more respect.
 
The Storm are hard to read, as you know every now and then they will drop a match. Perhaps the long trip and Origin come-down will get to them here? But don’t write them off – they have class across the board and can easily get the chocolates.

Match officials: Referees – Ashley Klein & Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials – Adam Reid & Adam Gee; Video Ref – Steve Clark.

Televised: Fox Sports – Delayed 9.30pm.