Schick Hydro Preview: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles
The Manly Sea Eagles head into this one with a 4-4 win-loss record while the South Sydney Rabbitohs are 3-5, but those stats could very well have been reversed had a few things gone differently in Round 8.
Manly played out a thriller against the Canberra Raiders, with the Sea Eagles stealing a two-point win in extra-time courtesy of a Dylan Walker penalty goal. Both sides traded tries in the final 10 minutes, before Walker missed a simple conversion that would have ended the game in regulation time. Despite copping it from the Canberra players, the explosive centre held his nerve when it mattered to clinch the crucial win.
It was a different story for the Rabbitohs who rallied from a half-time deficit to hit the lead against Brisbane, only for a couple of controversial calls to go against them late in the contest. Tautau Moga was awarded a try that shouldn't have been given, while Anthony Milford appeared to bobble the ball moments before he landed the winning field goal.
Michael Maguire will have drilled into his players that there is no point dwelling on last week's events, with their focus solely on bouncing back against Manly.
The Rabbitohs welcome back Adam Reynolds from injury, which pushes John Sutton into the second row, while George Burgess will miss the game – and the following three – through suspension.
Manly coach Trent Barrett has named the same 17 that got the job done in the nation's capital.
Why the Rabbitohs can win: It's taken them a while but it appears as though the Bunnies have worked out how best to use Damien Cook and Robbie Farah. Against the Broncos, Cook – as he has done for the past month – started the match and caused early headaches with his speed around the ruck. Michael Maguire chose to keep Farah on the bench until the 45th minute, but his injection into the contest changed the complexion of the game with the veteran rake setting up two tries to give his side the lead. Cook returned later in a roving commission, but Souths simply didn't have enough possession at that stage to mount any attacking threats.
Why the Sea Eagles can win: It's hard to explain why, but the Sea Eagles have performed better on the road than at home this year, with Manly 3-0 following wins in Townsville, Canberra and at Allianz Stadium where they edged the Roosters. They also beat Souths when they met at the venue in 2016, with Trent Barrett's men turning an 18-0 half-time lead into a 20-12 victory. They'll be in the away sheds again on Friday night, and that might be the difference between victory and defeat.
 Telstra Premiership: Damien Cook vs Apisai Koroisau
Tackles, Line Break Assists, Try Assists, All Run Metres.
The history: Played 139; Rabbitohs 64: Sea Eagles 75. Souths have won five of the past seven meetings between the sides, including a 38-18 result back in Round 2 that saw them recover from a slow start to blow Manly off the park with three tries in the final 13 minutes. The Sea Eagles did however claim a 22-16 victory in a trial game back in February, although it's hard to read too much into that given the players missing.
What are the odds: Manly 1-12 is the way Sportsbet punters are going here. The Sea Eagles have been well backed both in the head-to-head and line markets. Dylan Walker's great form hasn't gone unnoticed by punters and the Manly centre is the best backed for first try scorer.
Match officials: Referee: Gavin Badger. Assistant referee: Gavin Reynolds. Sideline officials: Russell Turner and Adam Reid.
Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 6pm.
NRL.com predicts: It's been difficult to get a read on either of these sides, but Manly appear to be the more settled at this stage of the competition. Like we've seen all year, this will be another tight contest, with South Sydney's 0-3 record in home games the only reason we're tipping against them. Sea Eagles by 6.