Rabbitohs v Sharks: Schick Preview
Schick Hydro Preview: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Make what you want of the Sharks' past three games, they remain defiant their season hasn't peaked too soon.
Their 15-game winning run was ended by a draw with the Titans, with two losses to the Raiders and Dragons in the ensuing two weeks.
Without influential hooker Michael Ennis against the Green Machine, the Sharks were dealt a cruel blow when skipper Paul Gallen was ruled out in the warm up of their loss to the Red V.
Gallen has been named to face the Rabbitohs, with the omission of Sosaia Feki (groin) forcing a team-wide reshuffle.
South Sydney sit at 13th on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder but have shown form beyond their ranking in recent weeks.
Halfback Adam Reynolds remains in doubt, but the Rabbitohs will be without the suspended Zane Musgrove. Nathan Brown will play from the bench as George Burgess partners brother Tom in the front row.
Watch out Rabbitohs: Gallen is the heart and soul of the Sharks. His absence against the Dragons was felt immediately. The skipper demands plenty of attention in the middle of the paddock (with and without the ball) and it was a bridge too far for the likes of Bukuya and Jesse Sene-Lefao to replicate.
Watch out Sharks: Reynolds' first half performance in the Rabbitohs' 41-22 victory over the Warriors last week was as good as it gets. His three try assists in 45 minutes – before a hamstring ruled him out for the remainder of the game – demonstrates his fight for fitness is crucial for South Sydney.
Key match-up: Greg Inglis v Ben Barba. It's been a mixed year for the Rabbitohs skipper. Thrown around Souths' backline by coach Michael Maguire, Inglis's impact has varied. A three-week suspension didn't help his cause after Origin III but he has shown glimpses of his best over the past fortnight. Facing the battling Sharks, Inglis will collide with Queensland counterpart Barba for the 12th time – who sits at sixth on the NRL's top try-scorers list.
The history: Played 84; Rabbitohs 37, Sharks 44. The Sharks have won five of their past eight against the Rabbitohs including their last two meetings. These teams haven’t faced one another yet this season, their last clash coming in the elimination final last year. The Sharks knocked out the 2014 premiers with a 16-point flogging.
What are the odds: There's no surprises from Sportsbet punters for the round's final match, with 80 per cent tipping odds-on favourite Cronulla. Alex Johnston heads the first try-scorer market, but punters are keen on Greg Inglis getting the job done at juicy odds. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant Referee: Gavin Badger. Sideline Officials: Chris Sutton and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski.
Televised: Fox Sports 1 – Live Coverage from 6:30pm.
The way we see it: The Sharks aren't stressing over their past three weeks of poor form and nor should they. It's a good thing their recent shortcomings have come in the regular season rather than the finals. A potential Rabbitohs win depends on the fitness of Reynolds. Even then, the Sharks will be desperate to reverse their current slump. Cronulla by eight points.