The Dragons come up against competition heavyweights in the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a crucial clash at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

After 18 rounds of the competition, the Rabbitohs are sitting pretty in second place on the ladder, a length away from the Dragons who reside outside the top eight.

The two proud and historic clubs have played on 32 occasions since the Dragons' joint-venture commenced in 1999, with the Dragons winning 17 and the Rabbitohs claiming 15.

Wayne Bennett's men have enjoyed a successful season in 2019, supported by the fourth-best attack in the competition (62 tries). While the Dragons lay claim to the 10th best attack with 51 tries.

When it comes to second-phase play however, the Dragons are clear winners given their 138 offloads compared to the Rabbitohs who rank last in the league with 117. Discipline could also be the downfall of South Sydney given they have produced the sixth most errors of any team (195).

Danger man
Damien Cook

Former St George Illawarra Dragon and current Australian hooker Damien Cook, has become one of the most lethal dummy halves in the competition. His explosive speed out of the ruck makes him an important person for the Dragons to contain.

Cook has a big influence over South Sydney's attack with 18 try assists, 12 line break assists and two tries next to his name this season. His contribution in defence is also immense, making the most tackles of any Rabbitoh (700).

Key matchups

Ben Hunt v Adam Reynolds

Ben Hunt returns to the side and finds himself up against Adam Reynolds fresh off a season best performance.

In last weeks game against the Cowboys, Reynolds slotted five from five off the kicking tee, and also produced two try assists. Across the season Reynolds has forced 18 dropouts and produced nine line break assists.

But Hunt will be determined to outplay his opposite number and take control of the match. So far this season, Hunt has 11 forced dropouts and 10 try assists making his impact on the side clear. The winner of this matchup in the halves will go a long way to winning the match for their side.

James Graham v Cameron Murray

The old bull clashes with the young buck in this interesting matchup locking down the scrum.

Graham is one of the most experienced players in the game having played an astonishing 398 Rugby League matches across his 15-year career in the Super League and NRL. Despite an injury reducing the 33-year-old's season in 2019, Graham is still at his consistent best making 433 tackles at a 93.5% efficiency.

With just 50 matches under his belt, Murray is beginning to make a name for himself in the NRL. At just 21-years-old, the mascot junior made his debut for the NSW Blues this year after impressing selectors with seven tries and five line breaks. Keep an eye on this matchup to see if experience trumps youth.