Schick Hydro Preview: Dragons v Rabbitohs
Sydney Cricket Ground
One team is playing for a finals berth while the other is simply playing for pride, but either way you look at it, the Dragons and Rabbitohs will be desperate for the two competition points when they go head-to-head at the SCG on Friday night.
After putting 52 points past the Sea Eagles in Round 20, most people tipped the Red V to do something similar against the last-placed Knights. Instead, they produced 15 errors and were out-enthused by a Newcastle side that seemingly had little to play for yet put in one of their most stoic performances of 2017.
The Dragons remain in the eight despite the loss but are now only above the ninth-placed Panthers on points differential.
It was an equally disappointing weekend for the Rabbitohs who slumped to their fourth-straight loss with an uninspiring 32-18 defeat at the hands of the Raiders.
Their cause wasn't helped by a high shot on Adam Reynolds, while Angus Crichton was also sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.
Reynolds (head knock), Crichton (foot) and Sam Burgess (ribs) have all been named as Souths hope to spoil the party on Friday evening.
The Dragons have named an unchanged line-up while Zane Musgrove starts at prop for the Bunnies in place of Dave Tyrrell.
Why the Dragons can win: Second-phase footy has been one of their biggest strengths in 2017 and it could be the key on Friday night. The Dragons lead the league with 262 offloads this season – including 38 in the past fortnight – while they have also allowed the fewest offloads (170). Interestingly, the Rabbitohs are next best, having given up 171 offloads, although the Raiders managed to promote the ball 12 times against them last week. It's an area they'll need to clean up given the Dragons make more metres than any other team and don't need to be given any leg-ups on the back of offloads.
Why the Rabbitohs can win: There's something about the SCG that brings out the best in the Bunnies. While they did lose to the Dragons in the corresponding fixture last season – a game best remembered for Greg Inglis's attempted field goal when his side was down by two points – the Rabbitohs had won their previous five matches at the venue before that fateful Sunday afternoon. The aggregate score in those five wins was 146-50 which included a couple of big wins over the Red V in 2014 and 2015. It might be an away game but they'll have plenty of support.
 Telstra Premiership: Jack de Belin vs Sam Burgess
All Run Metres, Offloads, Tackle Breaks, Hit Ups.
The history: Played 27; Dragons 16; Rabbitohs 11. Souths have won five of the past six meetings between the sides, including a 34-24 victory in their most recent meeting in Round 11 last season.
What are the odds: More than six times the number of dollars have been put on St George-Illawarra despite the fact they're coming off a loss to Newcastle. Sportsbet reports 75 per cent of the money in handicap betting is also with the Dragons. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assist referee: Dave Munro. Sideline officials: Chris Butler and Jarrod Cole.
Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 6pm.
NRL.com predicts: Based on what we've seen this season, the Dragons should win. But that's what we said last week and we were left with plenty of egg on our face. Can the Rabbitohs produce the same sort of fight that the Knights showed last week, or will the Red V put the foot down with so much to play for? It has to be the latter, doesn’t it? Dragons by 14.