Rabbitohs v Raiders Semi-Final

Source: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au
Sam Burgess provides good go forward for Souths. Source: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au
After being blown away against Melbourne last week, Souths  will be looking to make the most of their second chance in the finals series when they face Canberra  at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. They will have their work cut out against an in-form Raiders outfit however, with the ‘Green Machine’ extending their winning run to six matches with a 34-16 victory over Cronulla on Sunday.

Playing in a first final series in five years and just a second since 1989, Souths were convincingly outplayed by the Storm last weekend to take their record to three defeats from their past five games. Adding to their woes is the loss of experienced centre Matt King who has been ruled out for the season with a broken arm, with Andrew Everingham replacing him in the centres.

The Raiders have injury concerns of their own, with the loss of centre and goal kicker Jarrod Croker a big blow. Joel Thompson moves into the backline, while Joe Picker takes his place in the second row. Fullback Josh Dugan is set to fill Croker’s role as goal kicker, but will need to improve on his efforts against the Sharks, where he failed to kick a goal from three attempts.

History – Canberra holds a 27-18 historical advantage over the Rabbitohs, but Souths have dominated recent meetings between the pair winning the past three. When the sides met at ANZ Stadium in round 12, Souths were 36-18 victors. Interestingly, that was also the last time that they defeated a top eight side.

Dangermen – Englishman Sam Burgess  has been one of the Rabbitohs best this season, providing a solid platform for the likes of Dally M Rookie of the Year Adam Reynolds to work from. He has a high workrate and was one of their best against the Storm last weekend.

Josh Dugan  is one of the best fullbacks in the game and will punish Souths if they give him any space. He is averaging 143 metres a game in 2012 and has also made 98 tackle breaks from his 16 matches this season.

Prediction – Souths have been the better side in 2012, but it is the Raiders that go into this match with all the momentum. The loss of Jarrod Croker is a huge blow to them however and swings things back in favour of the Rabbitohs. Canberra will miss Croker’s strong running but having to rely on Dugan with the boot is more of a concern for them. Souths 1-12

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