South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium, Monday 7pm
Rejuvenated Rabbits look to heap more pain on Sharks
This is going to be a good contest for Monday night football folks. Despite having very differing years both Souths and Cronulla will be desperate for the two competition points. Souths have been rejuvenated in recent weeks after pushing Melbourne to the limit a fortnight before losing in golden point. Then last week they steam rolled a shell shocked New Zealand Warriors outfit with some brilliant counter attacking football. The confidence is back for the Rabbits, Greg Inglis is back and appears to be back in form. This mixed with some emphatic play by their forwards sees Souths with a big chance of causing the upset on Monday night.
Cronulla have endured a few torrid weeks as the fatigue and strain of a long season catches up with them. They were pummeled through the middle of the field by St George Illawarra who made their edge defence in particular look very brittle. They’ll need to improve this week against a monster Souths pack that are experts at busting tackles. The Sharks need a win to boost their confidence but with injury clouds hanging over key players James Maloney and captain Paul Gallen, it won’t be easy for the Shire boys.
Last Meeting: Cronulla Sharks 28 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 at Allianz Stadium, Finals week 1 Souths would love to exact revenge for being knocked out of the finals last year. The Sharks have won 3 of the last 4 against the 2014 premiers but have lost the last 3 in a row at ANZ Stadium, a ground where they have won just 7 times in 21 games.
Who to watch: Souths are full of confidence at the moment and look for diminutive hooker Damien Cook to ride that wave this Monday. Cook was one of the Rabbits best last week against the Warriors being strong in defence with 33 tackles as well as having 2 offloads and a tackle bust next to his name. Despite Souths having no chance of playing finals football this year Cook has a lot to play for as he attempts to nail down the starting hooking spot for the remainder of 2016 and beyond after spending periods of this season in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership. Focus on his hard hitting defence and darting play around the ruck close to the line, a real live wire that will cause plenty of problems.
Cronulla will be hoping that in the face of adversity their talented backline can spark them back into form and deliver their first win in 3 weeks. Jack Bird is one of their many young starlets in their backline who will want a much improved effort after a poor defensive showing against rivals St George Illawarra last week. Look for Bird to create havoc on that right hand edge with his powerful runs and silky ball skills. He has a great combination with his outside men and having played in the halves has a great passing game. What he needs to dominate in is his defence and not drifting infield. Look for him to bounce back with an improved effort particularly defensively as the Sharks try to get their 2016 campaign back on course.
The Favourite: despite a slender 3 game stretch the Sharks are favourites over Souths in this match.
My Tip: Backing Cronulla to bounce back and prove why they are title contenders in 2016. Their squad is capable of doing anything and this is a huge game in their season. Souths to continue their good form but the class of the Sharks backs will be a touch too much for them. Sharks by 4.