St George Illawarra and South Sydney go into battle as top eight outsiders after round 11 defeats delivered significant setbacks to their 2020 finals hopes.
The hard-luck Dragons slipped four points behind eighth-placed Manly in 11th while South Sydney are two points in arrears in 10th so victory is vital if they want to keep their seasons alive.
Both sides engineered brave comebacks that fell just short and suffered injuries in the process so much will hinge on who recovers best from their gruelling Saturday defeats.
The Dragons are much improved in recent weeks but must reverse a poor record against South Sydney which has seen them lose four in a row and eight of their past 10 clashes.
Dragons: Halfback Adam Clune and Trent Merrin (HIAs) will each miss a week with Ben Hunt reverting to halfback, Cameron McInnes to hooker and Jackson Ford starting at lock. Jordan Pereira replaces Jason Saab on the wing.
Tariq Sims returns from suspension, pushing Tyrell Fuimaono to the bench. Tristan Sailor is the new name on the pine. Saab and Korbin Sims were trimmed from the extended bench on game day after Kaide Ellis and Jayden Sullivan were omitted 24 hours out from kick-off.
The Dragons have scored 86 points in their past three games.
Rabbitohs: Souths are 1-17. Latrell Mitchell returns from suspension at fullback, forcing Alex Johnston to the wing. Corey Allan is out.
Liam Knight and Patrick Mago return on the bench in place of Jack Johns and Hame Sele (shoulder). Johns and Allan dropped off the reserves list an hour before kick-off after Kurt Dillon and Troy Dargan were cut from the squad on Wednesday night. The Rabbitohs have won their past four games against St George Illawarra.
Match: Dragons v Rabbitohs
Round 12 -
Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew DuftyFullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell Mitchell
Winger for Dragons is number 2 Jordan PereiraWinger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Jaxson Paulo
Centre for Dragons is number 3 Euan AitkenCentre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Campbell Graham
Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac LomaxCentre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Dane Gagai
Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele RavalawaWinger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Alex Johnston
Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Corey NormanFive-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben HuntHalfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds
Prop for Dragons is number 8 Blake LawrieProp for Rabbitohs is number 8 Tevita Tatola
Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Cameron McInnesHooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
Prop for Dragons is number 10 Paul VaughanProp for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Tyson Frizell2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Jaydn Su'A
2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Bayley Sironen
Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jackson FordLock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Tyrell FuimaonoInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Mark Nicholls
Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Josh KerrInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Liam Knight
Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Jacob HostInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Keaon Koloamatangi
Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Tristan SailorInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Patrick Mago
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell
Zac Lomax v Dane Gagai: The Dragons centre has played a key role in St George Illawarra's recent resurgence. In particular, his combination with fullback Matt Dufty has been deadly. Lomax's double against the Sharks gave him six tries in as many games and eight for 2020.
Gagai has also got hot of late, the Rabbitohs veteran crossing against the Raiders to take his season tally to seven tries including a treble against Wests Tigers in round nine and a double against the Titans in round five.
Damien Cook is best known for his devastating work with the ball in hand running out of dummy-half but he hasn't been shirking his responsibilities in defence this season. In fact he tops the NRL for tackles with 554 - 35 ahead of the more defensively minded Eel Reed Mahoney.