NRL Round 17 – South Sydney v The Cowboys: Attitude Adjustment in Defence Needed

 

 

 

 

Rabbit in the vineyard: 2023 NRL Round 17

 

South Sydney DRLFC v North Queensland,
Sydney Olympic Stadium,
Sunday 25 June, 4:00pm

 

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT IN DEFENCE NEEDED

 

In the week when the mighty Maroons wrapped up the 2023 State of Origin series with that emphatic win in Brisbane, it seemed fitting that one of Queensland’s all time greats, Cooper Cronk, stated the obvious in commentary during Souths’ fifth loss from the last six rounds:

“Souths need an attitude adjustment in defence!”

After Origin, the Cowboys had five players backing up from Wednesday night, including four Queenslanders nursing Caxton Street hangovers.

The wrecking ball, Jason Taumalolo, was a big out for the visitors.

Souths had two players backing up: captain Cameron Murray and hooker-centre Damien Cook.

Souths also had the Round 16 bye, to freshen up, and address recent defensive issues.

Thomas Burgess and Davvy Moale returned for Souths, both very welcome inclusions. Arrow and Mitchell were still absent.

Possibly the highlight of this rather forgettable afternoon was the ‘back to the eighties’ half time score line: Cowboys 5, Souths 0. A throwback to the three-point try era!

Souths did defend more effectively in the first half, conceding one try, on the back of yet another error, this time Cody throwing a mistimed pass over the sideline gave the Cowboys possession.

Next up, a brain explosion from Lachlan Ilias, an up and under inside the last minute of the half, gifted the Cowboys possession. The visitors dutifully knocked over the field goal with seconds on the clock to go into the sheds with the most unusual of leads – five points.

Unfortunately, some of Souths’ players began the second half as though they were back on another ‘bye’, with Valentine Holmes, surely still dehydrated from the Origin celebrations, scored twice in two minutes, to essentially put the game to bed at 17-0.

Cook was replaced by one of Souths great young prospects, the Greek international, Peter Mamezoulis. The youngster’s spark lifted Souths’ attack.

Ilias scored a great individual try, under the posts on the hour, however, this was the only time in the match where the scoreboard attendant needed to adjust Souths’ numbers.

Taumalolo may have been absent, however another man mountain, Kaulikefu Finefeuiaki, finished the game with a barnstorming try under the posts.

Genuinely difficult to find positives for Souths from this game:

Taaffe and Ilias are always heavily scrutinised. A reality check here, and context with the five-eighth. Blake Taaffe is 24 years old, and has played 27 NRL games, including the 2021 Grand Final when Latrell was suspended. Lachlan Ilias is 23 years old and has played 43 NRL games.

Cody Walker is 33 years old, into his eighth NRL season, and has played 184 NRL games.

With Cam Murray and Damien Cook backing up from Origin today, Souths needed Cody to keep his cool, and lead. Cody seemed intent on niggling Chad Townsend, and unfortunately did not have a happy day, particularly his kicking game, and his passing game.

Coach Demetriou, whose contract was extended during the week, stated in the press conference “our attitude to defence is a problem, no doubt about it.”

I will be howled down by many Souths members and supporters, however I am going to throw it out there: with Souths now clinging on to eighth place, after five losses in the last six weeks, Cody’s attitude is also a problem. We needed leadership from him today.

We need much to change, Cody’s attitude is but one dot point on a very long list, for Friday night’s game against the in-form Warriors at the already sold out Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

A thoroughly deserved win for the Cowboys, who have momentum, and wins over Melbourne, Penrith, and Souths.

 

The Michael Andrews work rate award: Tevita ‘Junior’ Tetola worked hard in a soundly beaten side. Junior will need to lift the entire forward pack in Auckland on Friday night.

 

The Phil Blake ‘chip n chase’ best attacking moment: Beaten five tries to one, I guess this must be the only Bunnies try of the afternoon: Ilias under the posts from a scrum. Scott Drinkwater missed the tackle. Drinkwater carved us up all afternoon in attack. The missed tackle must have been the only blemish on his game.

 

POTY points were challenging to allocate. More than likely, I would be the only Souths supporter on the planet to think that Blake Taaffe deserved three points. Many experts would have me certified. I am at peace with that. I gave Taaffe three points for always having a red hot crack, for effort. He ran 159m. OK, he made a couple of errors. He was not Robinson Crusoe in that department today. In a refreshing change, he attacks the ball from opposition kicks. He runs hard. He puts his body on the line to take the high ball.

 

Full time: North Queensland 31 d South Sydney DRLFC 6

South Sydney’s points: try: Ilias (59’) Goals: Taaffe 1/1.

 

 

Round 15 R.I.T.V. player of the year points:

3- Blake Taaffe

2- Junior Tetola

1 – Hame Sele

 

PROGRESSIVE R.I.T.V. PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS – LEADER BOARD:

11: Campbell Graham  

10: Cody Walker and Keon Koloamatungi

8: Junior Tetola and Latrell Mitchell

7: Hame Sele

6: Lachlan Ilias, and Junior Tetola

5: Thomas Burgess

4:  Blake Taaffe, Damien Cook, Jai Arrow, Davvy Moale

3: Cameron Murray, Alex Johnston and Isaiah Tass

2: Taane Milne

1: Shaqai Mitchell

 

The Rabbit in the Vineyard, Nuriootpa, Barossa Valley, South Australia

 

 

Read more from Rabbit in the Vineyard HERE.

 

Russel Hansen

Has worked in schools for over thirty years – as a teacher, coach, coach educator, sports coordinator and in pastoral care roles. Whilst at Brisbane Boys’ College as Director of Athletics, he led teams to six GPS premierships in track and field, and cross country.

He has coached at all levels from school to international, most recently coaching a lad to the Australian U/20 4x100m relay squad for the 2022 world U/20 championships.

He is married to Heidi, a Primary school principal, and is father to two adult daughters.  

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About Russel Hansen

Russel Hansen Has worked in schools for over thirty years – as a teacher, coach, coach educator, sports coordinator and in pastoral care roles. Whilst at Brisbane Boys’ College as Director of Athletics, he led teams to six GPS premierships in track and field, and cross country. He has coached at all levels from school to international, most recently coaching a lad (100m personal best 10.34secs) to the Australian U/20 4x100m relay squad for the 2022 world U/20 championships. He is married to Heidi, a Primary school principal, and is father to two adult daughters. Twitter: @Russel_Hansen

Comments

  1. Ian Hauser says

    Some worrying signs indeed, Russel. Disinterested defence, Cody losing the plot a bit, Mitchell missing for a while yet, Murray and Cook with the extra load of Origin…and so on. We’ll see what they’re made of if our pre-season hopes for them are to be fulfilled. (And how poorly was Murray used in Origin? An insult to his proven record at that level.)

    My Broncos were also clunky and, as I forecast, the Titans rose to another level. At least we’ve still got a couple byes up our sleeve.

    But, hey, wasn’t the Origin mauling a treat! All things being equal, Cotter will become a 30+ game player – a quintessential Queenslander with a great attitude, a huge motor, a real team man, and more than a bit of ability.

  2. Russel Hansen says

    Yes, Cotter. A salt of the earth Queenslander, if ever there was one!

    Not surprisingly, he had no issue backing up, probably played better with a Caxton Street hangover?!

    Souths: what a challenge in NZ on Friday night …

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