Schick Hydro Preview: Wests Tigers v South Sydney Rabbitohs
For the second time in 2016 the Tigers and Rabbitohs meet at ANZ Stadium in a game that could have serious top eight implications.
The Bunnies missed a great chance to consolidate their place in the top half of the NRL Telstra Premiership last week but instead left Perth with a heartbreaking golden point loss to the Titans.
The defeat snapped what had been a promising two-game winning streak; their last loss, incidentally, coming against the Tigers.
The black and golds were 30-22 victors when these sides met back in Round 9 with Jordan Rankin playing a starring role with two tries after regular fullback James Tedesco was forced from the field with a shoulder injury.
A loss in aquatic conditions at Allianz Stadium last weekend ended what had been a two-game winning run of their own, and another loss on Friday night could see them fall six points adrift of where they want to be.
Robbie Farah is the big inclusion for the Tigers at hooker with Elijah Taylor shifting to his more familiar role at lock. Kyle Lovett drops back to the bench while Tim Grant returns in place of JJ Felise.
The Rabbitohs have named the same 17 that went down in extra time.
Watch out Tigers: Greg Inglis might be in a bit of a try-scoring drought at the moment but he always brings his ‘A’ game against the Tigers. The South Sydney superstar grabbed his only four-try haul in the NRL against the Tigers on a Friday night at ANZ Stadium back in 2013. Overall he has scored 11 tries from 15 appearances against this week’s opponent, including a hat-trick in 2008.
Watch out Rabbitohs: Despite boasting an overall losing record against the Rabbitohs, the Tigers have scored more points against South Sydney than any other NRL opponent. The black and golds have 719 points from 27 meetings at an average of just under 27 per game. They have scored 64 in their past two matches against the Bunnies.
Key match-up: James Tedesco v Cody Walker. A dry track on Friday night could pave the way for an all-out attacking assault from two of the game’s most lethal fullbacks with ball in hand. Tedesco is one game back from the injury he picked up against the cardinal and myrtle in April and already looks back to his best with a try and some nice touches against the Roosters. He has 10 tries, nine assists and a whopping 64 tackle breaks in his 10 games in 2016. The Tigers No.1 has more tries against the Rabbitohs (six) than any other opponent, and has scored in all but two of their previous seven meetings. Walker, meanwhile, has made the seamless transition from the halves to the back as part of coach Michael Maguire’s rejigged backline. He is coming off a career-best night in Perth where he ran for 242 metres, had 10 tackle breaks and scored a try.
The history: Played 27; Tigers 12, Rabbitohs 15. The Tigers dominated the early meetings between these sides but momentum has shifted to Redfern with the Rabbitohs winning seven of the past 10 clashes, five of them by 13 points or more.
What are the odds: The up and down Wests Tigers have been well backed to upset the Rabbitohs with double the investment on the outsiders in Sportsbet’s head-to-head market. Tigers 1-12 is the most popular winning margin and Josh Addo-Carr has received the most backing in the first tryscorer market. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Matt Cecchin. Assistant referee: Matt Noyen. Sideline officials: Jason Walsh and Adam Reid.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 7:30pm. Fox Sports 1 – Live coverage from 7pm.
The way we see it: It’s been difficult to get a proper read of either team this season with both sides trading scintillating performances with underwhelming offerings. Given the fact they haven’t been beaten by the Tigers twice in the same season since 2008, we’re leaning towards the Rabbitohs by eight.