Both sides looked back to their usual selves last week after some disappointing early season displays. Souths dominated the game against the Titans with their forwards, allowing their ball players to pick holes through the Gold Coast defence. The Storm used all their grit and determination to sneak a win against Manly when it looked like they were heading to a third straight defeat.
It makes a change for Souths to come into this fixture as favourites, as they have a terrible overall record against Melbourne. However they will take confidence from their impressive Qualifying Final victory over the Storm last September.
If Souths are to continue their recent revival and make a serious challenge for the premiership then they need to cut out their errors – they are currently the side who are producing the most in 2014. The Storm, on the other hand, commit the fewest errors so the Rabbitohs can ill afford to be off their game on Friday night.
Much has been made of how switching John Sutton back to the halves has been the catalyst for the Bunnies’ improved form, but the effect on the man he replaced has largely been unnoticed. Dylan Walker was initially thrust into the role with Sutton moving up to lock, but he looks far more comfortable back on the wing – as evidenced by his four try haul last weekend against the Titans.
While the Storm are clearly not functioning with the same efficiency as in previous years, their ability to find a way to win is incredible. The win over Manly was the fourth time in 2014 that they have come back to win a game in the last five minutes. Both sides are largely unchanged, although the Storm have brought in Joel Romelo to replace the suspended Ben Hampton.
Friday 16th May, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:40
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm