These two great rivals find themselves 12 positions apart on the ladder and worlds apart in terms of form and confidence.
The Rabbitohs have navigated the Origin period and come out the other side with gritty wins over Manly and the Cowboys when they could just as easily have lost both games.
By contrast, the Dragons have lost four of their past five, conceded 76 points in the past fortnight, and kissed goodbye any hopes they had of playing finals footy.
It would take a monumental turnaround in attitude if the Red V are to play spoiler to the Rabbitohs' charge towards a top-two finish.
Rabbitohs: Wayne Bennett named the same 17 which came from behind to beat the Cowboys last weekend but Thomas Burgess (ankle) is the big inclusion an hour before kick-off. Dean Britt goes back to the bench and Tom Amone drops out. Sam Burgess and Connor Tracey were trimmed from the 19-man squad 24 hours before kick-off while Amone and Corey Allan were the last two men omitted an hour before kick-off.
Dragons: Great news for the Dragons with skipper Gareth Widdop named for his first game since dislocating his shoulder in round three. Widdop will resume his playmaking partnership with Ben Hunt, who returns from a post-Origin rest. Widdop's return sees Corey Norman shift to fullback and Matt Dufty moved to the bench. Teenage winger Jason Saab has been handed his debut and Zac Lomax returns from a broken thumb on the other wing. Jacob Host and Patrick Kaufusi dropped out of the extended squad on Thursday while Mikaele Ravalawa and Reece Robson made way an hour before game time.
Adam Reynolds was sensational down the stretch in Townsville and his kicking game and composure had coach Wayne Bennett in raptures post-match. Dragons fans will be hoping their No.7 Ben Hunt is rested and rejuvenated for the run home as they look to restore some pride in the final seven rounds. On form it's Rabbitoh Reynolds taking a clear points victory in this showdown but Hunt's a match-winner on his day and will be up for a big one after sitting out the Panthers loss.
For the Rabbitohs to win
They did a fine job to surge late and take the two points last weekend but Wayne Bennett will be looking for an improvement in their completion rate if they are to keep the mini-roll going. Some sloppy handling resulted in the Bunnies completing just 25 of 33 sets in Townsville at 76 percent. A repeat of that would open the door to an upset. A repeat of the previous round's 89 percent completion rate against Manly is what they need to douse the Dragons' flame.
For the Dragons to win
The Dragons actually missed less tackles than Penrith last week but it's where they are missing them that hurts most. Goal line defence has been a massive issue in the big losses to the Raiders and Panthers and unless Paul McGregor's men put some steel back into their 'D' inside their red zone they could find themselves getting plenty of kick-off practice again. Two weeks ago at WIN Stadium the Dragons missed a whopping 54 tackles. If they are to cause an upset at ANZ Stadium the equation is simple . . . tackle for your life.
Brett Kimmorley says
Ben Hunt will be rested, and he needs to be the best on the ground this week for the Dragons. A lot of the attack needs to come from him. South Sydney have been really good for most of the year. With it now being post-Origin I think we will see Damien Cook’s running game return to its best. I think he could run for over 200m this weekend. Rabbitohs by 8
The Rabbitohs have the third best defence in the NRL and concede just 16 points per game. They have allowed their opposition to score 20 points or more just five times but in three of those games they still managed to win. The Dragons are giving up 24 points per game and have conceded 20 points or more 11 times. Out of those 11 games they could muster just a single win - a 25-24 defeat of Brisbane in round three.
And another thing ...
Wayne Bennett spent three seasons at the Dragons and led them to their only premiership as a joint venture in 2010. Since then the supercoach has been to Newcastle, Brisbane and now the Rabbitohs, where he has a great chance of adding another title to his bulging CV. The Dragons on the other hand have been to the finals only twice since Bennett departed.