New Zealand Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs Saturday, May 26, 5.30pm Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
The first of an evening of all Top 4 clashes with the Warriors hosting the Rabbitohs in what looks a critical match to securing a spot at the top of the table come season’s end. The Warriors have been inconsistent of late while the Rabbitohs just keep on winning.
Recent FormNew Zealand are third on the ladder with an 8-3 record. The Warriors rank seventh in scoring and eighth in defence. The Warriors have not won back-to-back games since Round 5. New Zealand have scored 18 or more in nine of 11 games. South Sydney are fourth on the ladder with a 7-4 record. The Bunnies have won three straight and seven of their last nine. Souths have scored 20 or more in six straight. The Rabbitohs rank second in scoring and seventh in defence.
Key MatchupIssac Luke v Damien Cook. Without question the two most important players on their respective teams, Luke and Cook will have a huge impact on this one. The Warriors rake is rejuvenated this year and turned a lacklustre team performance on its head in the final 15 minutes against the Eels in a match-winning showing. Cook has been among the competition’s best players with his dynamic running – based on Luke’s style – critical to the success of South Sydney. Both will shred tired or lazy defences so both teams will need a disciplined 80-minute performance.
Stats That Matter– New Zealand are 8-3 ATS with an 8-3 under record, going under in their last three. – South Sydney are 8-3 ATS with a 6-5 under number. – New Zealand ended a six-game losing streak against South Sydney in Round 1 with a 32-20 win in Perth. – The Warriors have won three of the last four meetings at Mt Smart. – High scoring matches have been the norm with the last 10 all topping 40 with six of those (including the last three) topping 50 points. – Interstate underdogs of less than a try are 64-33 ATS dating back to 2013 with teams off a win 32-20 ATS with a 35-17 under record. – Souths have covered just 2 of their last 9 interstate games. – Souths have covered 12 of their last 16 overall and 8 of their last 12 off a win. – The Warriors are 17-22 ATS at Mt Smart since 2015 and 11-17 ATS as a favourite. – The under is 9-5 when the Warriors are at home after scoring 24 or more. The Warriors are 6-12 ATS at Mt Smart at night.
Final Thoughts Very keen on South Sydney in this one. The Rabbitohs have been sizzling this year and overcame a string of injuries to get the money in Townsville against North Queensland. Small interstate underdogs are quality bets. Souths are flying. The Warriors have an iffy record against Souths and as a favourite at Mt Smart, particularly at night. Chips in Souths.
How It’s ShapingSouth Sydney by 14
Best: South Sydney +1.5 ($1.91) Value: South Sydney 13+ ($4.60) First Tryscorer: Damien Cook ($17.00)