Newcastle Knights v South Sydney Rabbitohs Friday, May 4, 6pm (AEST) McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
The Knights were too good for the struggling Sea Eagles last week and have now done the double over Manly for the season. Connor Watson made a successful from injury last week to help Jack Cogger in the halves, and showed there is plenty of fight in the Knights despite the lengthy absence of Mitchell Pearce. Fullback Kalyn Ponga is a superstar on the rise and currently tops the Dally M leaderboard. The Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back after their loss to the Broncos last week, a game they could have easily won. Richie Kennar will miss the match with an ankle injury, while Sam Burgess serves the second-week of his two-match suspension.
FormNewcastle are up to sixth on the ladder with a 5-3 record. They rank 11th in scoring and a lowly 14th in defence. The Knights have won their last two and three of their last four. The Knights have won both home games this year. South Sydney are seventh on the ladder with a 4-4 record. The Bunnies rank third in scoring and ninth in defence. Souths have won four of their last six but enter this off a 24-10 loss to Brisbane. The Rabbitohs have conceded 20-plus in their last two.
Key MatchupKalyn Ponga v Alex Johnston : Ponga has made a sensational start to his Knights career and is the front runner on the Dally M leaderboard. He already has eight try-assists and seven line-breaks to his name for the season, and looks worth every cent the Knights spent on him. The injury to Pearce will only increase Ponga’s involvement and he’s quickly becoming one of the most exciting players to watch in the game. Like Ponga, Johnston has made seven line-breaks this season and has scored a try in each of the Rabbitohs’ last two matches. He’s one of the best finishers in the game, but The Wolf has been impressed with his ability to set up his outside men too. He’s been crying out for the No.1 jersey ahead of Inglis and has made every post a winner so far.
Stats That Matter– Newcastle are 5-3 ATS with a 4-4 total record while South Sydney are 6-2 ATS with a 4-4 total record. – Souths have won eight straight against Newcastle with six of those wins by 12 or more. – The Bunnies have also won three straight at Hunter Stadium. – The last six matches have all topped 42 points. – The Knights have covered 7 of their last 10 at Hunter Stadium while they are 23-15 under at the ground since 2015. – The Knights have covered 4 of their last 6 as a home underdog off a win. – The Knights are 8-2 under at home at night. – Souths have covered 6 of their last 9 as a road favourite of more than four. – Souths have covered their last three and five of their last six off a loss. – Souths are 10-1 under as a road favourite of 4 since 2015.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf is leaning towards the Rabbitohs in this one. The Knights got the job done against the Sea Eagles last week, but the form doesn’t stack up well with the form that Manly is currently in. The halves pairing of Connor Watson and Jack Cogger is a work in progress for the Knights, while the Rabbitohs spine of Johnston, Walker, Reynolds and Cook looks more threatening as the season progresses. Souths have won eight straight against the Knights and should continue that strong record on Friday night in Newcastle.
How It’s Shaping UpSouth Sydney by 4
Recommended BetsBest: South Sydney ($1.62) Value: South Sydney 1-12 ($3) First Tryscorer: Greg Inglis