Maybe it was the simple fact they were playing their long-time rivals, but the Bunnies looked like genuine top-eight material with last week’s convincing win over the Roosters.
The challenge now is to back it up with another confident performance against a Raiders team which appears to be coming good after a disappointing start to the season.
The Raiders are aiming for a third straight win after losing their first four games. The Green Machine seem to have sorted out their defensive issues, conceding a total of just 12 points in their past two outings.
Key match-up: Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis will be marking up on rejuvenated right-side Canberra centre Joseph Leilua. Inglis seems to be slowly but surely getting back to his best after missing virtually all of last season and looks like he’s enjoying himself again. Leilua has been one of Canberra’s best this year and has the size and strength to cause problems for Inglis. But Inglis relishes head-to-head duels such as these and his battle with Leilua should be a beauty.
For the Rabbitohs to win: Often criticised for being predictable and boring, the Bunnies showcased their attacking flair in last week’s win over the Roosters. If they dominate up front through the Burgess twins like they did last week, look for Cody Walker to create chances for his outside backs.
For the Raiders to win: Patience and poise aren’t always strong features of Canberra’s game, but they showed plenty of both in back-to-back wins over the Bulldogs and Eels. A similar no-frills approach might be the most effective way to upstage Souths, even if it goes against their natural attacking instincts.
Rabbitohs stat attack: Inglis boasts an excellent career strike rate against the Raiders, scoring 17 tries in 17 games. Hooker Damien Cook’s 41 dummy-half runs is best in the NRL.
Raiders stat attack: In their first four games – all losses – the Raiders gave up 112 points and surrendered match-winning leads in three of those matches. They turned their attention to defence, winning their next two games while conceding just 12 points.
And another thing: This game will be played at Central Coast Stadium, a relatively happy hunting ground for the Bunnies with four wins from six matches. The Raiders have won their last three meetings with Souths but never tasted victory in five previous trips to the Central Coast.
Prediction: Rabbitohs by 8
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders, 3pm Saturday at Central Coast Stadium
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Mark Nicholls, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola
Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Hymel Hunt, 20 Cameron Murray, 21 Kyle Turner
Sam Burgess returns from suspension at lock, pushing Jason Clark to the bench and Kyle Turner to the reserves. Cameron Murray (hamstring) has been named on the extended bench and remains an outside chance of returning this week.
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker (c), 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Blake Austin, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Luke Bateman
Interchange: 14 Ata Hingano, 15 Shannon Boyd, 16 Josh Papalii, 17 Dunamis Lui
Reserves: 18 Liam Knight, 19 Michael Oldfield, 20 Brad Abbey, 21 Jack Murchie
The Raiders have named an unchanged 17 from the one that easily accounted for Parramatta last week.
Head-to-head: Played 52; Raiders 31 wins; Rabbitohs 21 wins
2017 result: Raiders won 32-18 at ANZ Stadium in round 21
Points per game: Rabbitohs 21; Raiders 22.5
Points conceded per game: Rabbitohs 17; Raiders 20.7
Televised: Live on Fox League