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globalrugbyleague - Wed, 04 Apr 2007 12:02:00 GMT
What a contest we have for Good Friday when the pride of the league - South Sydney, on top of the table, go up against the indefatigable Bulldogs.


This will be the match of the round in the Phantom's eyes.

As I peer through my mask I see a game of similarities and contrasts on how the game will be played.

STRENGTHS:

Souths:

Souths are playing a simple, yet constructive game. Simplicity is the key to their footy.

It's not rocket science how the rejuvenated Bunnies are playing.

The plan is simple; take the ball forward and get over the advantage line and work to one side of the field, which allows almost the entire width of the field to launch forward or backline attack.

The league field is 70 m wide and Souths take the ball say 10m in from the sideline and work back across the field.

Bulldogs:

The Bulldogs believe in the axiom: Belt the ball directly ahead and play straight.

From there the halves, led by Daniel Holdsworth, aims the attack to where the space in the defence is short.

Either on the short side or the wider side of the field.

WEAKNESSES:

Souths:

Souths' biggest test is this week.

The first three opponents they have beaten are acceptable, but the Bulldogs love a game big game and have five internationals in the pack and genuine hitters in defence who test out their opponents physically and mentally.

Souths now have NRL expectations to see if they are the ``genuine article'' or an improved team, who will be competitive this year or finalists.

This pressure will make or break the Rabbitoh's.

Bulldogs:

The Bulldogs biggest weakness are their second half performances.

Last week they outscored the Titans 16-4 winning 22-6.

They have a tendency to ``clock off'' and struggle after halftime, as evidenced in the final against Brisbane last year.

TACTICS:

Souths:

Souths will take the ball forward and use dummy-half runners to exploit the big, Bulldogs forwards, who are open to swift runners and inside passes as they tire.

In attack, Souths halves, Jeremy Smith and Joe Williams will aim the attack down Hazem El Masri's right hand side in defence.

They will use cross-kicks to exploit his lack of heights and also decoy plays to get outside the Dogs' up and in style defence.

Bulldogs:

Conversely, the Dogs will play the ``rumble in the jungle game'', belt the ball forward, aim for quick play the balls and multiple tackles in defence.

Watch for Andrew Ryan rushing out of the line to put pressure on the first receiver.

VERDICT:

I like the Dogs this Good Friday even though Souths are a vastly improved side with skill, speed and definite try scoring ability and are well coached.

But Steve Folkes has the ``right game'' to get his side into motion for season 2007.

Some typical, bruising defence and offensive tackling will be the plan and should help the Dogs prevail by seven points.

RABBITOHS: David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Jeremy Smith, Joe Williams, Peter Cusack (captain), Daniel Irvine, Roy Asotasi, David Kidwell (captain), David Fa'alogo, John Sutton. Interchange: Shane Rigon, Dean Widders, Luke Stuart, Scott Geddes. Coach: Jason Taylor.

BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Trent Cutler, Daniel Holdsworth, Ben Roberts, Chris Armit, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (captain), Reni Maitua. Interchange: Dallas McIlwain, Nick Kouparitsas, Kane Cleal, Jarrad Hickey. Coach: Steve Folkes. - Read More, Here