Two traditionally inconsistent NRL sides do battle tonight when the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium. Join us for live scores and commentary from 7.30pm AEST.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride already for South Sydney coach Michael Maguire. He’s one of the more composed coaches in the NRL, but he must be starting to sympathise with his predecessor John Lang, who looked a tad unhinged at the end of many a day at the office.
Injuries haven’t helped the Rabbitohs’ cause with the key losses of Nathan Merritt, Sam Burgess and Roy Asotasi testing his squad’s depth.
There’s strong talk however that Merritt will tonight make his return from a toe injury that has sidelined him since the All-Stars clash in February.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have overcome a shaky start to the season and currently sit in fifth place. Two JT’s – Johnathan Thurston and James Tamou – have been their stars, and a third by the name of Jason Taumololo has emerged as a genuine tryscoring back-rower off the bench.
Add the return of Tariq Sims and the ever-present threat of Matthew Bowen and the Cowboys seem to be better placed than in previous years.
Consistency, however, has always been their bane, and this is exactly the kind of match where they’ve been known to falter.
North Queensland have a pretty poor record against the Bunnies, winning just one of their last seven battles, though most were fairly even affairs.
In fact, this fixture has a long history of close and exciting contests — coupled with the occasional blowout from either side.
For the Rabbitohs, the potential return of Merritt would boost an attacking arsenal that already includes Greg Inglis, Dave Taylor and Issac Luke, but the question of whether their pack can recover from the losses of Asotasi and Burgess to be equal to the task remains.
The Cowboys also have a clear advantage in the halves with Thurston leading the show, and with guys like Tamou and Sims vying for Origin jerseys they’ll no doubt be looking to impress.
Still, the betting is fairly even in this one, with Souths given just a +1.5 head start, and with Matt Scott failing to recover in time to travel with the squad and Glenn Hall out with a foot injury, we could well see another of the ding-dong battles this fixture has become known for.
Can the Rabbitohs overpower the Cowboys at home or will the class of Thurston and his men shine through? Join us from 7.30pm AEST for live score updates and debate on our live blog, and be sure to give us your opinion in the space below if you’re watching.