South Sydney Rabbitohs 42 (Carter, Goodwin, Gray, Hunt, Inglis, Johnston, McInnes, Turner tries; Reynolds 4, Goodwin goals) bt Sydney Roosters 10 (Burgess 2 tries; L Mitchell goal) at Allianz Stadium.
I have every intention of giving this review about as much effort as the Roosters showed today. But having written this sentence and the one prior, it appears I’ve already overachieved.
The less said about that game the better. From the jump we gave away easy field position and cheap penalties, just piggy-backing a team that hardly needs a piggyback up the field and let them run rampant to the insane scoreline of 26-0 after 28 minutes. Missing his partner in crime in Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds ran rampant and destroyed the Roosters with precision kicking and even the running game many fans claim he doesn’t have.
In the first 20 minutes we’d made 138 tackles to just 38 on their end. But that’s not where we lost.
For some inexplicable reason, whenever we got to the fifth and were positioned in our own half Jackson Hastings elected to bomb it instead of punching it to the corners or going for distance. It was a stupid tactic when we saw it happen the first and second time, and it became sheer lunacy to repeat the tactic — which they did, again and again. If that was an actual tactic deployed by the Roosters’ coaching staff, they need to shoulder the blame for this performance because there was never any chance they weren’t making easy position and momentum off the back of that “strategy”. It gifted field position to a team with momentum and cruelled any chance the Roosters had against a team that prides itself on not making errors.
My gast is flabbered, my booze bambled. I am without speech.
We couldn’t handle the sloppiest of offloads, out positional play among the back three was terrible, and our line defence in letting Cam McInnes dive over was simply woeful: the guy is built like the love child of James Maloney and Christian Bale in The Machinist, yet he scored the easiest of tries within the first five minutes — or, you know, when the defence is meant to be at its most potent.
I predicted we’d lose here — but never could I predict a shellacking like this, not in the first game of a year when we need everything to fall our way to be even within spitting distance of a chance at the finals.
Horrendous. Just horrendous. No excuses can be made; no positives can be taken. Yes, they were better in the second half, but it was a half they still lost. So even the one silver lining in a sky filled with dark, cumulus clouds is a friggin’ mirage.
Man of the match.
How they played.
What we learned.
We learned the hill is steeper than we envisioned.
We learned that Blake Ferguson is better served at centre — I just do not know what he offers at the back.
We learned Hastings has an incredible short kicking game when in attacking position but his general punting needs a fair bit of work (unless that repeated bombing was indeed a directive from the coaches, which would beggar all belief).
We learned we’ll miss Mitchell Pearce’s kicking and leadership, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ defensive intensity and Boyd Cordner’s wide running and experience more than we envisioned.
Did we learn anything else? Well, if the effort WAS there, how long is this season actually going to be? You should never answer a question with another question but this game deserved a few rules to be broken.
Rabbitohs fans now have bragging rights for a couple of months, and significant bragging rights at that. This was the first game of the season, the one in which coaches and players shouldn’t need to be reminded about effort in defence.
We play the Raiders next weekend, in Canberra. And while the season is still young and, yes, this is a transition year, going back to the drawing board after one game is simply unacceptable. It’s clear though that the whiteboard needs a good workout this week at Roosters HQ.
This is the shortest match review ever written at 26Rounds. That’s all this game deserves.
Stats (accrued from NRLstats.com)
Click to enlarge: