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The Rabbitohs only just escaped with a win over the Tigers last week and could face another scare against a Canterbury side still desperate to avoid the wooden spoon.

Souths led 20-0 inside half an hour last week but took the foot off the pedal and were almost punished for it, getting away with a 26-24 win after two Tigers players were sin-binned.

Origin winger Dane Gagai was also binned in that match and the Rabbitohs will be without him this week after he copped a suspension for striking.

The Bulldogs also burned an early lead last week, leading 10-0 after half an hour against Manly before conceding four straight tries in a 32-20 defeat.

They remain within striking distance of the 15th-placed Broncos, but effectively need to win here to avoid a last-place finish with a tough match against minor premiers Penrith looming next week.

The rundown

Team news

Rabbitohs: The Rabbitohs are 1-17. Jaxson Paulo will return on the wing for the suspended Dane Gagai and Hame Sele has replaced Patrick Mago on the bench. Prop Junior Tatola has been named on the extended bench after missing last round with a knee injury but he was cut from the squad on Wednesday along with Cory Denniss.

Five-eighth Cody Walker will play despite a leg niggle last week. Troy Dargan, who stepped into the halves when Walker was suspended earlier this season, was named in the reserves and cut an hour before kick-off along with Mago. 

The Rabbitohs have won five of their past six games against the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs: The Bulldogs are 1-17. Tim Lafai has returned at centre with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak moving to the wing and Nick Meaney dropped. With back-rower Matt Doorey injured, Chris Smith will start at lock and Josh Jackson on an edge. Luke Thompson (calf soreness) is expected to return after being named at prop.

Renouf To'omaga has dropped to the bench alongside the recalled Sione Katoa with Dean Britt the 18th man. Captain Jackson will make his 200th NRL appearance.

Meaney and James Roumanos were omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Britt and Tuipulotu Katoa were omitted an hour before kick-off. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Corey Allan
    Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
  • Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Campbell Graham
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Reimis Smith
  • Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Steven Marsters
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Tim Lafai
  • Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Jaxson Paulo
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Jayden Okunbor
  • Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
    Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Jake Averillo
  • Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds
    Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Lachlan Lewis

Forwards

  • Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Liam Knight
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden Tolman
  • Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
    Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
  • Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Luke Thompson
  • 2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Jaydn Su'A
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
  • 2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Bayley Sironen
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
  • Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
    Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Chris Smith

Interchange

  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Mark Nicholls
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Brandon Wakeham
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Jed Cartwright
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Renouf To'omaga
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Hame Sele
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Sione Katoa
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Keaon Koloamatangi
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Sauaso Sue

Key match-up

Cody Walker v Jake Averillo. The latest injury to Kieran Foran was undoubtedly a major blow for Canterbury but it also unearthed a possible future long-term five-eighth in Averillo, who impressed with two try assists in the No.6 jersey against Manly last round.

He's up against one of the most creative and dangerous pivots in the game in Walker, whose lethal running game and off-the-cuff style is the perfect foil for controlling halfback Adam Reynolds. Averillo is the underdog in this match-up but could be the surprise packet the Bulldogs need to spring an upset.

Stat attack

Canterbury's struggles in attack are nothing new but they have found it particularly tough just getting through defensive lines this season.

Their 2.6 line breaks per game is not just the worst result of any team this season but of any team in the past four years, since the 2016 Knights finished that season with 2.5 per game. This season Souths have made 4.4 per game, with the Roosters and Panthers averaging more than five.