NRL Round 7 – Dolphins v South Sydney: A game of two halves

 

 

Dolphins v South Sydney DRLFC
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Thursday 13 April, 8:00pm

Being the old-fashioned type that I am, Thursday night football is a struggle for me. I used to love Monday night football, especially in the 80s. Souths squaring off against Canterbury at Belmore, Mario Fenech in the thick of the action. The passion!

Thursday night comes around quickly, particularly after Easter.

Not quite the weekend, not quite the end of Week Eleven, the end of a fantastic school term, in the magnificent Barossa Valley.

The upside, a Thursday pie, supporting the famous Linke’s bakery in my new hometown. The Linke’s Bakery chunky steak is now sitting in second place in the pie of the season list, only behind the outstanding Angaston.

Souths slipped back into their early season pattern of slow starts, Kodi Nikorima, of all players, in similar vein to Jaxon Paulo for the Sombrero in Round 3, having a night out against his 2022 club.

For me, one of the great mysteries of South Sydney in 2022 was the selection of Nikorima over young gun Blake Taaffe. In 2021, Taaffe played so well in the finals series, including the Grand Final heartbreaker, as a replacement for the suspended Latrell Mitchell.

Nikorima bombed to Tanne Milne in the second minute. Milne was unable to take the high ball, Aitkin scored and the Phins took a six-nil lead. Dolphins hooker Jeremy Marshall-King was also having a blinder. His try from dummy-half capping off a great first half.

This passage of play summed up Souths’ first half: on the attack, and with players on his outside, rather than pass, Cody Walker kicked ahead for no-one, except a Dolphins player, to clean up. The Phins went upfield and were awarded what Cooper Cronk described in commentary as ‘a very light penalty, that’ for a Cam Murray tackle on that man Nikorima. I liked how Cooper channelled a little Richie Benaud with the use of ‘that’. The Phins took the shot at goal to add another two points.

At half-time, the Dolphins deservedly held an eight point lead, 14-6.

I was lamenting passing up a Gather Round ticket to the Crows-Carlton clash at the Adelaide Oval.

After half-time, a combination of Phins errors and the sin binning of Kenny Bromwich saw Souths gain ascendency. Bromwich displayed all his Melbourne Storm grounding with a typically dodgy hit on Tanne Milne. Tries to Graham, Walker, an opportunist ‘pin ball’ ricocheting moment, Tass, Mitchell, and Johnston ensured a convincing fulltime score line.

***

The Mario Fenech-George Piggins inspirational play of the match: I loved the tall, rangy Campbell Graham’s first try, off a Lachlan Ilias bomb. My mind went back to Souths in an earlier era – Neil Baker or Craig Coleman bombing for Ian Roberts. Whilst Graham did not sail high for this try, a la Roberts in that wonderful era, the try came at a crucial time. Graham has now scored eight tries for the season and has been consistently one of Souths’ best each week in Rounds 1 to 7.

The Tony Rampling-Les Davidson defender of the match: The Queensland Origin forward Jai Arrow was tremendous for Souths off the bench. His work in both defence and attack was crucial. Arrow hits hard in defence and is a genuine presence on the field.

The Michael Andrews-Luke Stuart work rate award: Souths are now without the reigning George Piggins medallist Junior Tetola, for the second time this season. The young guns, Davvy Moale and Hame Sele again stepped up.

Moale, particularly, was immense. Rabbit in the Vineyard player of the match.

What a future this twenty year old has!

The Phil Blake ‘chip n chase’ best attacking moment: Cody Walker’s magnificent pass to Alex Johnston for his 169th NRL try. Johnston’s third try this season.

2023 has been relatively quiet to date for Johnston, however I am confident AJ will rapidly close in on fourth placed Brett Morris (176 tries) in the coming weeks.

Full time: South Sydney 36 d Dolphins 14

***

South Sydney now face Penrith in Round 8.

Another Thursday night game!

Cody Walker has already been quoted regarding ‘having to start games better’.

Against our bogey teams, Penrith and Melbourne, this has never been more crucial.

As a very wise man, a great mentor of mine, a former Head of Physical Education, and Olympic relay coach, now leading sports psychologist, would often remark, ‘actions speak louder than words’.

Souths need eighty minute, consistent actions in the next three weeks: Penrith, Brisbane, Melbourne.

***

Round 7 R.I.T.V. player of the year points:

3- Davvy Moale

2- Hame Sele

1 – Campbell Graham

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

8: Campbell Graham

6: Lachlan Ilias

5: Keon Kolomatangi

4:  Davvy Moale

3: Hame Sele, Cameron Murray, Latrell Mitchell & Isaiah Tass

2: Damien Cook, Thomas Burgess

1: Davvy Moale, Shaqai Mitchell, Cody Walker, & Tevita Tetola

Russel Hanse 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

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