South Sydney are keen to end their season winning drought against top eight opposition. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

Souths prepare for make or break NRL run

2020-08-26 15:50:31

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett believes the next five weeks of the NRL season will reveal how dangerous they can be come finals.

Their 56-16 thrashing of Manly 56-16 last week all but wrapped up the Rabbitohs’ finals spot but their dismal record against top sides needs is a concern.

They have not beaten a top four side in 2020 and have only one win against Cronulla in their favour against top eight teams – that was in round one.

Losses to the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne, Penrith, Canberra and Newcastle have knocked Souths down to seventh on the ladder.

And despite their four-game winning streak and devastating form, a win against Parramatta on Thursday night would signal the Bunnies as genuine contenders.

“We’ve got five weeks and three top four teams to play out of the five,” Bennett said on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t have to be tomorrow night but we need to, at some stage over the next five weeks, show everybody that we can be a real chance in the playoffs and that’s our objective at the moment.

“Tomorrow night is one of those games and going to let us know just where we’re really at.

“The form of our last three or four weeks has been really good so it’s a good time to play a team like Parramatta.”

Souths have one of the hardest runs into the finals and will face the Storm in round 17 before taking on the Roosters in their final home-and-away match of the season. 

Without speedsters Alex Johnston (concussion) and Dane Gagai (hamstring) on the edges, Souths will need to find another way to strike against the Eels.

Afer their 14-0 win over Melbourne last week, Parramatta boast the best defence in the competition – conceding just 11.7 points per game.

While the Rabbitohs are none from five against the current top eight, the Eels have the best record with five wins from six games.

“Rabbitohs played fast and with a lot of momentum last week, defence is obviously going to be a big key for us again,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

“We need to be better at minimising our errors and gifting field position to them.”

STATS THAT MATTER

* Parramatta have won 16 of 20 games at Bankwest Stadium, scoring 499 points in the process.

* South Sydney have won all eight of their matches against current bottom eight teams since the resumption but none from five against top-eight opponents.