Melbourne Storm v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs will be out to achieve something they have never done in their proud history, win in Melbourne.
It is a surprisingly torrid record yet one South Sydney must overcome against a Storm side sitting in second place on the NRL ladder.
Last week the Storm overpowered the Eels with three unanswered tries in the second half to record a 28-10 win. Craig Bellamy has named an unchanged side with Tim Glasby retaining his starting spot in the front row as Jordan McLean remains sidelined indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile the Rabbitohs snapped their three game losing streak with a six-point triumph over the Dragons.
However it came at a significant cost with halfback Adam Reynolds sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks with a thumb injury, dashing his Origin hopes. John Sutton has been named as his replacement however the former Bunnies skipper will have to prove he has overcome the eye injury that left him hospitalised on Monday night.
Watch Out Storm: Origin looms so bank the points – When your four blue chip assets are taken away mid-season early wins become a must. Melbourne is likely to have four players starting for Queensland come Origin I and while the Big Three pride themselves on backing up, this year's Origin period involves some tough road games against Sydney, Penrith, Canterbury and New Zealand. When you consider this along with the fact the Storm have not had a winning record during the Origin period since 2011, Saturday night is crucial to improve their record to 7-3 and get some breathing space inside the top eight before the Origin schedule arrives.
Watch Out Rabbitohs: The final frontier – Three consecutive finals appearances and a premiership last year has certainly put to bed the dark days of South Sydney, however there is one thing that remains unachieved. The Rabbitohs have never won a game in Melbourne from their 11 visits. Those losses have also come at a heavy average margin of 26.9 points. In fact the visitors have only managed to keep the margin of defeat to single digits on one occasion back in Round 23, 2010. They say records are made to be broken and this is one the travelling fans will be hoping to wipe from the history books.
Key Match-Up: Billy Slater v Greg Inglis – Need we say more? You don't need stats to know that this fullback matchup alone will be worth the price of admission. In his first game back in a month, Slater took little time to remind us all how good he is with two tries in the first 32 minutes against the Eels. While last week was a reminder, Saturday night presents the perfect opportunity for Slater to silence the doubters who question his rep credentials. Inglis will have his own point to prove after he was overshadowed by Slater's two-try, man of the match performance the last time these two teams met in Round 10, 2014.
The History: Played 24; Storm 20, Rabbitohs 4. This section is music to a Melbournian's ears. Not only are the Storm yet to be beaten by South Sydney at home, they've also won 15 of the past 17 meetings between the two sides.
What Are The Odds: The money came flooding in for the Bunnies immediately after their win over the Dragons and there’s currently 6 times the cash invested on them. Expect their price with Sportsbet to shorten as we get closer to kick-off. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Matt Cecchin. Assistant Referee: Henry Perenara. Touch Judges: Michael Wise and Rick McFarlane. Video Referees: Shayne Hayne and Luke Phillips.
Televised: Fox Sports – LIVE from 7.30pm AEST
The Way We See It: No Adam Reynolds for the Rabbitohs who are backing up off a five-day break against a near-full strength Storm team. That maiden Melbourne victory may yet again elude the visitors. Storm by 8.