NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Rabbitohs

The Raiders have finally got into the winning habit and will be looking for their third consecutive win when they face the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Raiders’ dominant 18-2 win over Parramatta last week saw them go back-to-back and climb from the foot of the ladder to just outside the top eight.

The Rabbitohs come off a comfortable 26-14 win against the Roosters, their third victory in their last four games. 

The Raiders head into this clash with an unchanged 17 from the team that beat Parramatta last week.

Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs welcome back Sam Burgess from suspension, with him set to start at lock and Jason Clark to move back to the bench.   

Last Time: The Raiders ran out comfortable 32-18 winners when these sides met in round 21 last year at ANZ Stadium.

They raced out to a 20-6 lead at half time and from there the Rabbitohs never looked like coming back.

Key Matchups:

Joey Leilua vs Greg Inglis

After playing less than 80 minutes last season, Greg Inglis has started to show some of the form which has made him one of the most dominant footballers of the last 15 years. He’s crossed for three tries already this season and the Raiders will have to close him down or risk him causing plenty of damage on Saturday.

Joey Leilua has three tries of his own in 2018, as well as renewing his lethal partnership with Jordan Rapana. ‘Leipana’ has been a near unstoppable force in recent weeks and no doubt the Raiders will be looking their way again this weekend.

With these two big centres lining up against each other the contest on the Raiders’ right edge will be one to watch.

Blake Austin vs Cody Walker

There aren’t many halves in the game that have more flair than these two. Both are at their most dangerous during broken play and can leave the defensive line looking silly with their dummy and step.

After spending a week at Mounties, Blake Austin was exceptional last week. He scored a solo try against the Eels and came up with some great tackles in defence. We may well look back at last week’s performance as a turning point in Austin’s season.  

Cody Walker has made a good start to 2018, with four tries and four try assists to his name already. He’ll be hoping he can add one more of each this weekend.

Sia Soliola vs George Burgess   

This Saturday afternoon we see a clash between two of the biggest forward packs in the NRL and this is one of the many head-to-head battles that will be great to watch.

Sia Soliola was fantastic last week and has been leaving a dent in the opposition each week, with both his hard running and big tackling. With this weekend likely to feature plenty of big hit ups the Raiders will look to their number 8 to set the tone early in the match.

Likewise, George Burgess will be looking to make some big runs early and get his team off to an ideal start. The Rabbitohs’ forward pack isn’t short of big names and when one Burgess boy fires the other two often follow suit. The Raiders will have to match it with George and the other South Sydney forwards early if they are to leave with the two points on Saturday.

Quote of the Week:

“Sia’s always been a really good defensive player and he brings a lot of energy and line speed.” -Shannon Boyd

Head to Head:

The Raiders have comfortably had the better of things in the previous 53 meetings between these two, winning 31 times and losing on just 22 occasions.

This includes a winning run for the Raiders dating back to 2015.