Both teams bring winning form into this match and it promises to be a good guide of where each side is at in their 2020 campaign. The Panthers caused an upset against the Storm last week, never once falling behind in their 21-14 victory. They did all the right things; they lead possession (53%), had a positive completion rate (83%), made only 7 errors and missed only 26 tackles. It was a tight contest whereby they demonstrated some much-needed experience to frustrate their opponents, well assisted by some impressive individual performances. The Rabbitohs come into this match looking like a difference team since their Round 4 loss to the Storm. Despite having wins over ‘lesser’ opponents in the Titans and Warriors, they have improved confidence within this side. They have scored 12 tries in the past two weeks, with some of their players appearing to have greater trust in their peers and poise in their play. The effect this will have on the squads performance cannot be measured in any way and they will thrive when they are able to generate their own momentum on the field.
The Rabbitohs still have their faults; they have a 74% completion rate (13th in the league) and commit 11.3 errors a game (6th worse in the league). This is compared with the Panthers 81.5% completion rate (4th in the league) and error rate of 9.5 per game (lowest in the league). There is a thought that the Panthers attack can be dull at times. Despite this, they average the 7th highest average in the league with 20.5 points per game and sit just behind the Rabbitohs (22 ppg).The Rabbitohs will have to produce something special to score against the Panthers; the home side average just 14 points conceded per game compared with the Rabbitohs 19 per game.
The form for this match runs through the Melbourne Storm; they accounted for the Rabbioths in Round 4 22-8, while the Panthers were victorious last week. There wasn’t too much difference between the Storm in either of those matches, yet, it was the Panthers who produced what was needed. The key for the Rabbitohs will be how capable they are of generating momentum through the middle of the field. They have looked at their best this year when playing with speed and will rely heavily on post-contact metres for this; for what it’s worth, they are ranked 13th in the competition in this area compared with the Panthers, who are 3rd. The Panthers have also won 2 matches against Top 8 teams and came very close to beating the Eels. The glaring difference is that the Rabbitohs are yet to beat a Top 8 side this season. On this statistic alone, it is no surprise that the Panthers are favourites and this match is proving a difficult choice for an investment. There is also the suggestion that the Panthers may have a ‘dip’ in performance after two draining performances against the Storm and Eels in consecutive weeks. If they are to be taken seriously, then they should put this to one side and get on with business. All things considered, regardless of the result, this match should be a tight contest.
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