The South Sydney Rabbitohs have given themselves cause for concern ahead of the NRL Finals Series, losing back-to-back matches against potential post-season opponents. The Rabbitohs were beaten in the Preliminary Finals in the 2018 campaign by their rivals the Sydney Roosters. Wayne Bennett has enjoyed a solid first term in his bid to take the club back into the Grand Final, although their form since the beginning of June has been up and down.
The Rabbitohs were the early pacesetters in the league and were top of the table after winning 10 out of their 11 opening fixtures of the campaign. However, they’ve lost six out of their last nine games, which has resulted in the club tumbling down the standings into fourth place. They’re a certainty to reach the Finals Series, although their recent struggles are backed at 8/1 in the rugby league betting odds to make a surge all the way to the Grand Final.
Bennett began his reign in the perfect fashion by defeating the Roosters in the opening game of the season by a 26-16 margin. The victory was a catalyst for their dominant run in the first three months of the campaign, which included triumphs over the Brisbane Broncos – the team of former coach Anthony Seibold and coincidentally Bennett’s old team, whom he left in acrimonious circumstances.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) December 3, 2018
The Rabbitohs moved to the top of the table ahead of the Melbourne Storm and seemingly had the opportunity to take control of the number one seed. However, a defeat to the Parramatta Eels began a run of four defeats on the bounce before the bye week. Bennett’s men pulled out a vital one-point win over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles courtesy of a late score from Adam Reynolds. It stemmed the tide and allowed Sydney to build rhythm, adding the scalps of the North Queensland Cowboys and St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Rabbitohs failed to continue their run with a poor defeat at the hands of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. Bennett’s men made several errors over the course of the contest, allowing the Sharks to move back into the top eight with a comfortable victory on home soil. It was not the preparation the club needed ahead of a showdown against the Storm, especially without the injured Sam Burgess. Melbourne dominated the early stages of the game and raced into a two-score advantage. A sign of encouragement for Bennett and his team moving forward was the resilience shown to battle back against the league leaders to level the match through Campbell Graham.
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) August 6, 2019
Graham’s three-try effort proved to be in vain as Cameron Smith and Brodie Croft took the game away from Sydney to close out the victory. The contest could prove to be a preview of the Grand Final, although Bennett will have concerns about his side’s inconsistencies in the second half of the term. On their day they are capable of defeating any team in the league, but those moments have been few and far between since the end of May. The Rabbitohs have plenty of experience in their squad and their coaching staff and that will be key in the closing stages of the campaign to avoid further disappointment in the NRL Finals Series.