NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Rabbitohs
Canberra Raiders v South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday at 2:00pm at ANZ Stadium
The Canberra Raiders will look to leapfrog the South Sydney Rabbitohs on the competition ladder when the two sides clash this Sunday at ANZ Stadium.
Both the Raiders and the Rabbitohs are coming off disappointing losses from Round 3 and will be determined to bounce back with a win this weekend.
With South Sydney and Canberra strong semi-final aspirants, the hunger to make amends for last week’s defeat will be heightened by the fact that either side needs a win to keep pace with the top eight.
Sitting in 12th position, the Raiders have a prime opportunity to leapfrog the Rabbitohs this weekend.
Both the Raiders and the Rabbitohs face some difficulty in their fortunes for the clash with several forced changes due to injury.
Canberra will be without the try scoring services of winger Edrick Lee who has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury whilst star forward Josh Papalii also remains injured on the sidelines.
Papalii’s absence is offset by the return of the modern day ‘Mr Perpetual Motion’ Shaun Fensom from suspension whilst Lee’s injury sees the talented Bill Tupou get an opportunity after setting the NSW Cup alight with Mounties.
“We missed Shaun last week,” Assistant Coach Dean Pay said. “He adds a lot of presence to our team and he obviously does a lot of work for us as well. It’s a welcome addition that’s for sure.
“It’s a good opportunity for Bill and I’m sure he’ll do well. There have been a number of guys that have been going well for our feeder sides. Mounties and Souths Logan have both been winning so it’s a good thing for the club to have those guys putting pressure on the guys already playing first grade.”
The Rabbitohs will be without the services of tenacious hooker Isaac Luke who has succumbed to a shoulder injury. The injury to Luke sees young gun Apisai Koroisau make his debut.
Whilst conceding that Souths will miss the leadership and doggedness of Luke around the ruck area, Canberra will not be taking the 21 year old lightly given the quality of Koroisau’s four performances for Fiji in the World Cup last year.
“They will miss Luke but they have many good players in their side that will stand up in his place,” Pay said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Raiders failed to counter the expected bounce back from the Titans following their heavy defeat by the Tigers the week prior however Pay has asserted that the Raiders have learnt their lesson from the loss and will be ready for a Rabbitohs outfit that is also determined to make amends for a loss to the Tigers.
“We knew the Titans were going to come out firing and failed to counter it,” Pay said. “That’s something we’ve learnt from. The Wests Tigers obviously beat the Rabbitohs last week and they’re one from three the same as us. It’s going to be a high quality game and the boys are looking forward to it. We’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Anthony Milford v Greg Inglis
If you wanted a portrayal of just how influential Greg Inglis is to this South Sydney side you only have to watch a replay of last week’s loss to the Tigers.
Inglis’ sheer presence provides the Rabbitohs with so much confidence in all aspects of their play and their cohesion and potency in attack was severely missing last week due to his concussion enforced absence.
“If he’s not the best player in the world, he’s very close and he will definitely be a player that we’ll have to watch closely,” said Pay.
Conversely, so too will Raiders fullback Anthony Milford who has brought his stellar form from 2013 which saw him crowned the Meninga Medallist into the new season.
Whilst the opposing fullbacks are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of experience they are both highly influential figures for their respective sides.
Sam Burgess v Brett White
Despite their innocuous start to the year, Brett White maintains that the South Sydney forward pack remains the benchmark in the NRL.
As such, their forward leader Sam Burgess will need to be kept in check in this encounter.
On his day, Burgess is capable of terrorising any forward pack in the world and his actions often inspire his team mates, especially his brothers, to reach similar heights.
One player who is well equipped to nullify Burgess’ impact is White. Like Burgess, the former Test forward is looked up to by his peers and a big performance against Burgess will inspire the likes of Shannon Boyd and Paul Vaughan to go to another level.
Reece Robinson v Nathan Merritt
How competitive would the Robinson/Merritt family barbeques have been when they were growing up in the heart of South Sydney territory?
Robinson and Merritt are first cousins and whilst they share a close bond off the field, the talented duo will be doing their best to trump the other on Sunday afternoon.
Both wingers employ speed, guile and natural instinct in their play to great effect and as such are noted try scorers and genuine match winners.
Look for Robinson to make Rabbitohs officials curse their decision to let him go from their ranks in this encounter.
Record against the Rabbitohs:
In a total of 48 games against South Sydney, Canberra has won 27 games and lost 21.
They said it:
Dean Pay: “Boydie will start again for us this week. He’s a big guy and makes a lot of impact for us which will come in handy this weekend because South Sydney has a very big forward pack.”
Brett White: “They’re the benchmark in the NRL as far as forward packs go. They’re big, aggressive and know how to win. It will be a big test for us this weekend but one that we are ready for.”
Dane Tilse: “We were pretty well structured in our first two games so we just need to go back to that. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, we just need to get back to what we’ve been doing at training.”
Bill Tupou: “It’s sad to hear what happened to Eddie, you don’t wish that upon anybody, but I’m definitely going to make the most of my opportunity in first grade. I’ve felt that my form has been good for Mounties and I can’t wait to get out there.”