Schick Hydro Preview: Melbourne Storm v South Sydney Rabbitohs
After suffering the biggest defeat of their season at the hands of the in-form Canberra Raiders last week, the Rabbitohs will have another tough task on their hands as they travel to Melbourne to play the Storm on Saturday night.
The 54-4 demolition at the hands of the Raiders leaves Souths on an eight-game losing streak, with their last win coming back in May.
Melbourne became the first team to defeat the Cowboys in Townsville since August last year, after a strong 16-8 win over North Queensland last Saturday night.
The win makes it five in a row for the Storm, who are now just one point behind Cronulla after the Sharks drew with the Titans on Monday night.
Melbourne's only change comes as they add Matt White to their extended bench for Saturday night's match, while the Bunnies make a host of changes.
Greg Inglis, Hymel Hunt, Joe Burgess and Thomas Burgess all come in for South Sydney, replacing Luke Keary, Michael Oldfield, Jack Gosiewski and Cameron McInnes.
Watch out Storm: There's no doubting South Sydney were not happy with last week's big loss to Canberra, and they get a chance to bounce back on Saturday night. Souths undoubtedly would be hungry to put last weekend's poor showing behind them, and what better way to do that than to take a big scalp in defeating the Storm. As the Bunnies have made four changes those players will be looking to help the Rabbitohs achieve a better result than last week, and sometimes a team with hunger is a tough team to beat.
Watch out Rabbitohs: With the Storm having the best defensive record in the league, the Bunnies will need to drastically improve their own defence if they're any chance of toppling the Storm. Souths have conceded the second most points this season and have given up 20 points on 14 occasions this season, with the Storm conceding 20 points in a game just twice. If this game becomes a high-scoring one, it'll play right into Melbourne's hands.
Key match-up: Dale Finucane v Sam Burgess: With the Storm's ladder position as healthy as it is, Storm forward Dale Finucane has played a huge part in his side's season to date. A constant in the No.13 jersey each week, Finucane may not get the plaudits he deserves outside of Melbourne, but his teammates and coaches have had nothing but praise for the 25-year-old all season. One of his toughest tests looms on Saturday night, as he comes up against one of the most damaging forwards in the league in Sam Burgess. The Englishman is in the top 10 in the league for total running metres, offloads and hit-ups, so the outcome of this battle will no doubt have an impact on which team comes out on top.
The history: Played 25; Storm 21, Rabbitohs 4. This match-up is one of the more one-sided contests around the league, with the Storm beating South Sydney on all but four occasions. Melbourne have won eight of the past 10 matches between these two teams.
What are the odds: 98 per cent of head-to-head money has gone on Melbourne and Sportsbet could be facing a big pay out on multi bets which all seem to include the Storm as an anchor leg. Melbourne 13-plus is easily the best-backed margin option and the Storm’s line seems to be increasing by the day. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Grant Atkins. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Tough Judges: Brett Suttor, Anthony Elliott. Review Officials: Bryan Norrie, Jason Robinson. Senior RO: Luke Patten.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 7.30pm (AEST).
How we see it: As the Storm look set for an assault on the minor premiership, the Rabbitohs will need to be at their very best to come away with the points on Saturday night. Given their tremendous record against the Bunnies, the Storm should have no problem accounting for Souths in this one. Storm by 20.