ANDREW JOHNS – NINEMSN COLUMN

Rabbitohs forwards will overpower Storm

After this weekend’s matches there will only be one team left with an undefeated record this season and I believe it will be South Sydney. Melbourne Storm heads north to take on the Rabbitohs in easily the match of the round and the season so far. Big matches are won in the forwards and I think that’s where Souths will have an edge.

The Rabbitohs showed some good signs in what was a fierce contest against New Zealand Warriors last week. They let in a couple of tries which made the game interesting, but when it really counted they muscled up in defence and did enough to secure the points. The Burgess brothers, Roy Asotasi, Jeff Lima, and David Tyrell combined well with Issac Luke to control the middle of the park. Once they have an edge and the opposition rolling backwards, the class of Adam Reynolds, John Sutton and Greg Inglis can really start to pile on the points.

The Storm have struggled in their last three halves of football. Last week against Wests Tigers they got a real fright and they looked really tired and flat at times. Against Souths they won’t have the luxury of dominating a full 20 minutes of play to charge home like they did against the Tigers. The onslaught from the big Rabbitohs forwards will be relentless.

The Bulldogs have shown all year how much they have missed their key big men up front. It has been too much to ask of the rest of the team to overcome the tougher sides with Sam Kasiano and James Graham still on the sidelines. This week they come up against Sydney Roosters and they will struggle again. Much has been said about Sonny Bill Williams facing the Bulldogs for the first time since he ran out on them, but that will mean very little to the players. None of the Bulldogs that played with Sonny Bill remain at the club, so it is only the fans who will really be carrying the bad feelings towards him.

The clash between Sonny Bill and Tony Williams could be interesting if they run into each other during the game. Williams has really struggled to fit into the Bulldogs structure this year. The Bulldogs halves aren’t getting the ball to him as cleanly as they should and I think it’s because he gets caught up in the sweeping plays that coach Des Hasler likes to run. The Bulldogs need to simplify things for Williams a bit – just point him at the fringes and tell him to run hard on to good flat passes. T-Rex can be a key part of the Bulldogs late charge into the top eight but he has to find his place in the structure.

Canberra look to have turned their season in the right direction with a gutsy fight back win against the Roosters last week. They have moved on from the Josh Dugan saga and coach David Furner has a lot of young and talented players coming together and playing some good football. The most encouraging thing for the Raiders is the return of Terry Campese to the squad. When he makes it back onto the playing field Campese will add that extra bit of class the Raiders need to go even further than they did last season. Fingers crossed he can overcome his injury issues, because he is a great player to watch.

I think St George Illawarra are specials against Wests Tigers at the SCG on Sunday afternoon. The Dragons are finally playing more to their strength, which is their fast-moving, skilful forward pack. With Benji Marshall out of the side with a crook toe, the Tigers will lose just about all of their attacking potency.

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