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Bulldogs v Rabbitohs: Origin stars return as Souths shoot for nine straight

What else can you say about the Bulldogs?

Last Saturday they couldn't hold a 14-point lead when it mattered against the Raiders, and if that wasn't bad enough, it was in front of their long-suffering fans at Belmore.

This weekend's task is daunting to say the least - taking on the in-form Bunnies.

Key match up: Damien Cook v Michael Lichaa. It is hard to believe the much-maligned Canterbury hooker was once regarded as a future representative star. Cook's rapid rise from bench player to starting State of Origin number nine has been nothing short of amazing - as was the decision by the family club to release him in at the end of 2015.

For the Bulldogs to win: Despite losing last week in heartbreaking circumstances, the slick combination of young halves Lachlan Lewis and Jeremy Marshall-King was impressive. Rhyse Martin was also a standout, scoring a hat-trick. If the trio again fire, an upset could be on the cards.

For the Rabbitohs to win: More of the same. Even though they probably didn't deserve to beat the Cowboys in Cairnslast start, the scoreboard shows otherwise. It was also the club's eighth successive win. 

Bulldogs v Rabbitohs - Round 18

Bulldogs stat attack: Dean Pay's men have combined to chalk up the most post-contact metres (8218) in the league after 17 rounds. However, 271 ineffective tackles typifies their campaign to date.

Rabbitohs stat attack: The high-flying pride of Redfern are runaway leaders when it comes to try assists (49) and line-break assists (58). They have also engaged the line (221) more than any other team.

And another thing: Late four-pointers from Hymel Hunt and Cameron Murray sealed a dramatic four-point victory for the Bunnies on Good Friday. Expect to see Anthony Seibold's men again singing their team song in the sheds just before 5pm this Saturday.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v South Sydney Rabbitohs, Saturday 3pm at ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Lachlan Lewis, 7 Jeremy Marshall-King, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Adam Elliott

Interchange: 14 Fa'amanu Brown, 15 Clay Priest, 16 Ofahiki Ogden, 17 Danny Fualalo

The Bulldogs are 1-17, with David Klemmer returning from Origin at prop, pushing Danny Fualalo to the bench. Matt Frawley and Asipeli Fine were cut from the reserves 24 hours out from kick-off, while John Olive and Francis Tualau were the last players omitted an hour before kick-off.

Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Hymel Hunt, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess (c)

Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Mark Nicholls, 17 Tevita Tatola

The Rabbitohs are also 1-17, with Origin stars Damien Cook, Angus Crichton and Dane Gagai all good to go. Hymel Hunt replaces Greg Inglis (broken thumb) at centre and Mark Nicholls comes in for the suspended Jason Clark on the bench in the only changes from their round 16 win over North Queensland. Braidon Burns, Dean Britt and Billy Brittain were cut an hour prior to kick-off, while Matt McIlwrick and Kyle Turner were dropped from the squad on Friday afternoon.

Head-to-head: Played 157; Bulldogs 81 wins, Rabbitohs 72 wins, 4 draws

Previous result: Rabbitohs won 20-16 at ANZ Stadium in round 4
Points per game: Bulldogs 17.1; Rabbitohs 25.1
Points conceded per game: Bulldogs 21.0; Rabbitohs 17.4
Televised: Live on Fox League

Petero Civoniceva's prediction: The manner in which the Bulldogs were run down against the Raiders on Saturday night was unbelievable. I think they will still be deflated by that result; their confidence is shot. South Sydney are full of confidence, they are a definite grand final contender this year. 

TIP: Rabbitohs by 14

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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