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Can Bunnies avenge 2021 heartbreak?

On the back of an up-and-down season, the Rabbitohs are playing to cement a fifth-place finish against the Sydney Roosters in the opening of the new Allianz Stadium.

Both teams have been in deadly form coming into the back end of the season. Additionally, both teams are coming off their respective wins.

The Rabbitohs-Cowboys clash was nothing less than phenomenal. Souths’ forwards made the difference in the 20-10 win. Keaon Koloamatangi and skipper Cameron Murray (to name a couple) displayed a gutsy 80-minute effort.

Cam Murray did an excellent job around the ruck for a large part of the game and did a significant amount of Souths’ dirty work, totalling 37 tackles for the match. The effort from the Rabbitohs skipper resulted in powerful running forwards through the middle, which opened up defensive lapses in the Cowboys line.

Keaon’s try displayed that perfectly; his allusive footwork and sheer size put him over for the Rabbits’ first try.

The Roosters took down the Melbourne Storm in a highly intense and physical clash packed with hard-hitting defence and scintillating attack. Easts’ 18-14 win was their seventh win in a row against the determined Storm.

The Roosters’ powerful defence was enough to keep the emotions high and the clash their way. Consistent captain James Tedesco kept his team underway even in the dying minutes of the game and did his part in keeping the Roosters firing as did his powering forwards.

The Latrell Mitchell effect

The Rabbitohs, led by dynamic fullback Latrell Mitchell, have much to play for in strengthening the statement made against the Cowboys in a mouth-watering clash against their old rivals. Maintaining their current form is of the utmost importance. Starting with intensity from the first minutes of the game lays the platform that it takes to win.

A consistent 80-minute effort from the Rabbitohs forwards as displayed in the past few weeks will highlight star players such as Latrell Mitchell and bring fatigue into the Roosters line.

Mitchell’s effect has not gone unnoticed. His versatile skillset brings elements of speed and depth into South Sydney’s attack, and his game awareness is unlike any other player in this competition. This season will hopefully be Latrell’s first final series in Rabbitohs colours since joining the club in 2020.

The fullback’s influence will be amplified even more so during finals, which may be a dangerous sign for opposition teams.

Consistency is key: the growth of Lachlan Ilias’s combination with Cody Walker

The pairing of young halfback Lachlan Ilias and veteran Cody Walker has developed strongly throughout the season.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Lachlan Ilias of the Rabbitohs passes during the round four NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at BlueBet Stadium, on April 01, 2022, in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Ilias’s game is getting better week-in and week-out. His reads of the general play against the Cowboys tested them multiple times throughout the game. Lachlan’s early kicks and attempts to isolate Scott Drinkwater on the Cowboys’ line put immense pressure on their kick returns.

Additionally, Walker has unmatched versatility, both with his passing and kicking game. As he is finding incredible end-of-season form, his involvement is ever-increasing, providing his striking outside backs with a multitude of try-scoring opportunities.

With finals on the Bunnies’ horizon, their ever-improving halves combination will be looking to be sparking in both offence and defence.

If the Rabbitohs play with an intense and powerful start off the back of strong forwards and fuelling passion against the long-time rivals, they will lay the platform for a dynamic finals series in the hopes of redeeming 2021 heartache.

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