Round 1: South Sydney 20 defeated by New Zealand 32
It’s easy to file a piece bagging the team after a performance like that but what does it achieve? It’s not like Anthony Seibold will ever read this and as Wayne Bennett famously said “if I start listening to the fans and the journos, it won’t be long before I’m sitting with them”.
Yes, it’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s early days. I’ve seen Souths win their first three games of the season and then crash and burn, I’ve seen them lose all three trials and the first two rounds but end up in the grand final qualifier.
One thing for sure is that tonight is a massive wake up call for Seibold. I have mentioned my concerns about our defence in previous posts but wins in both trials was able to gloss over this issue.
Heading into this game, Seibold made some big calls about using one hooker, dropping Tyrell Fuimaono for attitude reasons and putting Hymel Hunt, a three-quarter, on the bench. If we won then it would have been a selection masterstroke but we didn’t win and I hope he doesn’t have any regrets as he put trust in that 17 to do the job.
The Outsider’s five key areas
Attack – 2/5
We looked dangerous early on with Walker and Kennar crossing the stripe in the first quarter plus Johnston and Cook butchering tries. Hindsight is a wonderful thing so I am sure the Coach Potatoes have come up with 20 better options each could have taken.
Towards the end of the first half, we had a 7-2 penalty count in our favour and this gave us plenty of free metres. With a penalty count like that we should have capitlaised on this and been up by a few more tries.
A disallowed try from a dubious forward pass call towards the end of the first half didn’t help the cause and the game may have panned out differently but it’s no excuse for the result.
For the remainder of the game we were under the pump and this resulted in us looking disorganised and one dimensional in attack with not much going right.
There were moments of individual brilliance by our players, the effort was there with attack but until our halves take control we will keep facing these hurdles.
Defence – 1.5/5
It’s going to be a long season if we keep letting in soft tries. Our outside men are a worry, especially on the right edge, and they were exposed during the trials and nothing has changed. We keep sliding and retreating and this shows that we lack confidence and do not back our defence. Strong defence comes down to being focused, disciplined and having a positive attitude. There were plenty of moments in the game where we lost the ruck and the wrestle and this allowed the opposition to get post-contact metres, do offloads and have quick play the balls. The problems of last year are still there.
Completions – 1/5
23 from 35 = 65.71% which is a shocking completion rate. Our completions haven’t improved since the trials or last year. It’s pretty simple, you can’t win games if you are completing below 80%. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about that as you are constantly on the back foot instead of building momentum and pressure.
Kicking game – 2/5
Our first kick ended up as a 7 tackle optional restart and it didn’t get better from there. I felt that Adam Reynolds may need a few more games under his belt before we see the best of him. It’s hard to kick on the last when you’re under the pump. There was a couple of times when our decision making was off. This comes down to needing more talk and communication on the field.
Souths were at their best a few years ago when they built their game on ‘trusting The Hunt’. What is The Hunt? The Hunt is when you build your game on kick pressure, repeat sets and strong defence. If you kick well then you get repeat sets or you make the opposition’s last tackle within their own 30. This lets you start your set in a better position and puts the opposition on the back foot. Bring back The Hunt!
Discipline – 3/5
Our discipline has improved since the trials but it is a work in progress. It’s never good when Sam Burgess loses his cool but he’s such a competitor that his frustrations sometimes get the better of him. The incident was nothing major but you rarely see Sam react when Souths are dominating the game.
Where to from here?
The side is still gelling and when the attack was on it looked pretty good. Gagai, Crichton, Walker and Johnston looked lethal when in open space but it didn’t always pay off.
Defence was soft and our kicking was poor – need a big improvement on this for next week’s game against Penrith.
We Salute – Nathan Merritt
Make sure you check out our Nathan Merritt tribute as part of the We Salute series. For each home game we will honour a former South Sydney player.