Round 5 of the 2021 NRL season kicks off on Thursday night as the South Sydney Rabbitohs face off against the Brisbane Broncos from 7.50pm at Stadium Australia. As usual, our NRL expert Greg Davis has a full preview and betting tips for the clash below.
Stadium Australia, Thursday April 8th 7.50pm (AEST)
Souths: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Josh Mansour 6. Benji Marshall 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tom Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Jacob Host 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cam Murray. Interchange: 14. Dean Hawkins 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Patrick Mago 17. Jai Arrow 18. Hame Sele 19. Jaxson Paulo 20. Troy Dargan 21. Steven Marsters
Brisbane: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Xavier Coates 3. Richard Kennar 4. Tesi Niu 5. David Mead 6. Anthony Milford 7. Tom Dearden 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jordan Riki 13. Tevita Pangai Jnr. Interchange: 14. Brodie Croft 15. Tom Flegler 16. John Asiata 17. Ben Te’o 18. Ethan Bullemor 19. Rhys Kennedy 20. Cory Paix
THERE is some good news for Brisbane heading into this Thursday’s clash with supercoach Wayne Bennett and his Bunnies – Ryan Papenhuyzen has not made a shock mid-week switch to Souths.
The Melbourne fullback’s blistering 24 points in 11 minutes against Brisbane last Friday night was a brutal showcase of how far the once-mighty Broncos have fallen.
Bereft of any confidence, momentum, defensive starch or attacking potency, when Brisbane gets on the backfoot, opposition sides pile the pain and the points on the Ponies.
Some wet paper bags would provide more resistance at times.
And here’s the bad news for the Broncos. A legitimate title contender awaits them this Thursday, an in-form powerhouse coached by a seven-time premiership winner that might even crack a smile as his current side puts his old club to the sword.
It’s understandable that the NRL and its broadcasters would put this fixture in a primetime slot to tap into the whole “Bennett v Broncos” narrative. But the starkly contrasting form lines do not warrant so many eyeballs.
Then again, the Broncos are always primetime ratings winners. They have a lot of supporters and on the other hand, fans from the other 15 teams love to see them lose.
And what a time those supporters from elsewhere in the NRL have had in the past year or so with six-time premier Brisbane claiming their first-ever wooden spoon and pretty much the same playing squad starting 2021 in a similar fashion with three losses from four matches.
It’s the way Brisbane are losing too. Parramatta put 24 unanswered points on them in the second half of Round 1, the Titans blew them off the park early as did the Storm. The only joy was a 24-0 win over the hopeless Bulldogs who have scored less points this season (16) than Papenhuyen did in his 11-minute Bronco blitz.
Brisbane are in sixes and sevens – bad pun intended – when it comes to working out their best halves combination with the one certainty being that the trio of Tom Dearden, Brodie Croft and the overpaid and underwhelming Anthony Milford are not the long-term answer.
Dearden and Milford have got the nod to start in the halves with Croft named on the bench in the same set-up the Broncos began with last week.
The Broncos are staring down the barrel of an 1-7 start to the season with Penrith, Parramatta and the Gold Coast following the Bunnies who copped their own dose of Papenhuyzen in Round 1.
The Rabbitohs got back on track with a win over Manly, claimed the prize scalp of their arch-rivals the Roosters in the latest chapter of the ‘Book of Feuds’ and then rolled to a 38-0 thumping of Canterbury with four second-half tries.
South will be without five-eighth Cody Walker (suspension) but will still have halfback Adam Reynolds who is keen to impress in an off-contract year, hooker Damien Cook who rediscovered his scorching running game against the Dogs and Latrell Mitchell chiming in from fullback. Benji Marshall is not a bad fill-in in the no.6 jumper either.
With a powerful pack and slick backline profiting from their star-studded spine, the Rabbitohs should make short work of the Broncos who benefitted from the return of Payne Haas last week but have too many, doing too little, for new coach Kevin Walters to be a threat to Souths.
Some top teams can take the pedal from the metal when they take on a cellar-dweller. But not this Souths side and most certainly not this week.
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