Round 15 of the NRL campaign kicks-off with the Dragons taking on the Rabbitohs on Thursday night and there is plenty at stake for both sides as the race for the top eight hots up.
The Dragons sit just outside of the eight in 10th place on the ladder and need a response on home soil following a disappointing 31-12 defeat against the high-flying North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville last weekend.
The Rabbitohs put in a professional performance to see off the struggling Titans on the Gold Coast. The win sees them take seventh spot on the ladder and they will be looking for their third win on the bounce when they face the Dragons.
What: St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Where: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
When: 19.50 (AEST), Thursday 16th June 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Fox Sports
Odds: Dragons 7/4, Rabbitohs 9/20
The Dragons showed very poor discipline in last week’s defeat to the Cowboys that would have left coach Anthony Griffin pulling his hair out.
The Red V gave away countless penalties and six-again calls in the first-half which helped contribute to North Queensland opening up a 20-6 lead at the break.
Even though they improved after half-time, the Dragons will have to show much more discipline on Thursday night if they are to bounce back with the win.
Playing in front of their home fans in Wollongong is sure to give the Dragons a lift. Indeed they have been in great form at WIN Stadium this season.
After recovering from a shaky start which saw them lose their opening two games at home, they have since gone on to win the last four in front of the Dragons faithful.
They have shown what they can do when they beat the Sydney Roosters at WIN Stadium this season and will need a repeat performance to get the job done against Souths.
The Dragons now face a daunting run of fixtures as they look to boost their chances of playing finals footy at the end of the year.
After the clash with the Rabbitohs they face the Raiders and the Broncos before a trip to take on the Roosters.
Team news. The Dragons are also boosted by the return of Mikaele Ravalawa who has recovered from a hamstring injury that has forced him to sit out the last three games.
Mat Feagai is also back available so it means both Jonathon Reuben and Tautau Moga make way. Elsewhere Josh McGuire is ruled out with a groin injury.
Jaydn Su’A comes into the side with Jack de Belin moving into the front row. Francis Molo and Moses Mbye will take their places on the bench.
The Rabbitohs are out to pick up another win over the Dragons having already beaten them 24-12 in round five, but they will have to do it without Latrell Mitchell.
Souths have been coping well without their star full-back who has not played since 9th April after suffering a serious hamstring injury.
He recovered from the injury only to be struck by illness and bunnies coach Jason Demetriou will be taking no chances on one of his key players.
The news is also a setback for New South Wales ahead of game two in State of Origin. It means coach Brad Fittler would have to take a huge gamble and put him in without playing a game.
Demetriou is also strongly against that idea and Souths want to bring him back in round 16 on 2nd July.
Souths head into the game against the Dragons on the back of 30-16 win over the Titans with winger Alex Johnston the star of the show with a hat-trick of tries.
Johnston is the NRL’s leading try scorer with 14 in 13 games this season and will be out to add to the tally against the Dragons.
Damien Cook and Cameron Murray also showed no ill effects when backing up their origin exploits to star in the win.
The Rabbitohs have not been in great form away from home this season. Last weekend’s win over the Gold Coast was just their second on the road this season.
If they are to have any chance of forcing their way into the top four, that needs to improve.
Team news: The Rabbitohs will make just one change to team that beat the Titans. Blake Taaffe is set to return to the bench with Peter Mamouzelos dropping out.