South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Oh what a difference 12 months make. At this point last year both of these teams were entrenched in the top three and were gearing up to go deep into September football.
While South Sydney haven't dropped too far off the pace, currently sixth on the Telstra Premiership ladder, the same cannot be said for the Sea Eagles who sit on the bottom rung with the worst for-and-against in the competition. At this time last season Manly were sitting pretty in outright first place.
Recent form though suggests the tide could be turning. The Sea Eagles were able to produce a 30-20 win over the Wests Tigers last week, just seven days after the Tigers dismantled the Rabbitohs 34-6.
The Sea Eagles remain unchanged from their Round 15 win while South Sydney have made two changes after their bye, with Greg Inglis and Tim Grant coming into their 17 in place of John Olive and Jason Clark.
Watch out Rabbitohs: Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran played his best game of the season against the Tigers last week. While his status for 2016 now remains up in the air, on the field Foran's two try assists, try and solid input into the team's kicking duties in that game spells danger for the Rabbitohs. When Foran's on, the Sea Eagles usually are too.
Watch out Sea Eagles: Facing brother Luke for the first time in their NRL careers, Burgesses George and Tom will be looking to trouble their oldest sibling. While the twins are averaging solid numbers (George – 140.4 metres, 31.4 tackles per game; Tom – 134.5 metres, 26.1 tackles), their tenacity has been down of late but they should have no troubles getting up for his one.
Key Match-Up: Adam Reynolds v Daly Cherry-Evans. Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds has played seven games this season but has been close to the best player in the cardinal and myrtle jumper every time. With six try assists to his name, Reynolds will face one of his biggest tests this week when he comes up against Daly Cherry-Evans. The Manly and Queensland star averages three fewer less per game than Reynolds but has still managed to produce three 40/20s and 10 try assists this season.
The History: Played 134; Sea Eagles 73, Rabbitohs 61. South Sydney managed to get their finals campaign off to the best start possible when they beat the Sea Eagles 40-24 in last year's qualifying final. Apart from this, recent history between the two teams has been relatively even with each team victorious in four of their past eight meetings.
What are the Odds: Sportsbet punters have put twice as much money on Manly to win this one which has seen their price firm throughout the week. The Sea Eagles to win 1-12 is the most popular margin. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee – Matt Cecchin; Assistant Referee – Henry Perenara; Sideline Officials – Brett Suttor & Adam Reid; Video Referees – Steve Clark and Luke Patten.
Televised: Channel Nine (Live) – 7:30pm
The Way We See It: South Sydney coach Michael Maguire will have his team ready to roll after their last start embarrassment. In saying that, the Sea Eagles were impressive against the Tigers plus they'll be out to avenge their finals loss to the Rabbitohs last year. With the Sea Eagles in a four-way tie for the wooden spoon currently, expect them to jump up a few rungs of the ladder. Sea Eagles by 1.