The Outsider #21 – Round 9 preview

Round 9: South Sydney versus Newcastle

The Outsider

After a disappointing performance last week, we are now a third of the way through the regular season with Souths sitting in seventh place with four wins and four losses. After eight rounds last year we were eleventh with three wins and five losses. So a slight improvement but nothing to write home about.

What’s the difference between 2017 and 2018? Well, besides the new coach and a few comings and goings to our list we now seem to have a stable 17 with players only changing due to injury or suspension. Last season we did a lot of chopping and changing looking for that quick win.

This week we are up against a rejuvenated Newcastle side that have recruited well in the offseason. This is a must win game for us.

If we are to be any sort of threat this season then we need to build a winning streak that last five or more games. Games like last week are the ones that you are suppose to win, that’s the different between a side that makes the finals and a side that finishes twelfth.

Check out the Rabbitohs team lineup.

The Outsider’s Fearless Five

Don’t Cook it

There’s no denying that Damien Cook had a poor game last week, we haven’t seen Cook like this since we were towelled up by Canberra last season.

Cook needs to forget about last week and play a simple game this week. The more ball he gives out to our halves, the more attacking opportunities we will get.

There needs to be more communication between him and the spine especially when he runs from dummy half as more than often he looks like a deer caught in headlights and takes the wrong option.

This isn’t an attack on Cook but an observation that the spine don’t know what each other are doing.

Pressure = success

For Souths to win they need to dominate the middle and starve the opposition of the ball. We saw how well we did this against Manly-Warringah and Sydney and we all saw how well St. George Illawarra did it to us.You build pressure by varying your kicks and you do this by mapping your set out. At the moment, Souths don’t have an architect, we are trying our luck and hoping it pays off. Throwing the hall around is great but when you’re not making territory it allows for slow play the balls and disjointed attack.

Kicking it dead

The A-League Grand Final is on the day after between Newcastle and one of the Melbourne teams. You’re probably asking what’s the point of me raising this is? Well, the grass will more than likely be cut before our game to 25mm which is a lot shorter than the ideal 28-30mm grass that we normally play on. This means that the Steeden won’t hold up when kicked and room service bounces will be on the cards.

Cody Walker has a lead-foot and Adam Reynolds’ kicking these days is about as accurate as my putting game, nothing to write home about.

A way to overcome this is to be selective with your kicks and, when possible, run it on the last play.

It’s not always good to be right

Our right side has been disappointing this season. We have seen a lot of ordinary attack and defence down that edge.

With names like Adam Reynolds, Dane Gagai and Angus Crichton holding the fort you’d expect a lot more.

Crichton isn’t know for his defence and has struggled with this part of his game since I first saw him in the National Youth Competition. Defence in rugby league is a lot harder than rugby union especially these days with the amount of lines and decoys unfolding in front of you.

Does Crichton’s weakness in defence rub off on Reynolds and Gagai? There’s no doubting that Crichton’s attack is what had the punters impressed last season.

Friday arvo’s not a great time for football

We have the dreaded 6pm Friday time slot. The turnout will be low but the stakes are high and we will need to dig deep as there’ll be no energy from the crowd to lift the players.

If our senior players step up and set the standard early then we will trust the hunt and complete well. It’s very hard to play catch up football every week.

Game Day

The Outsider’s prediction

We’ve had the wood on Newcastle since 2012 after an embarrassing Round 26 2011 loss to them. So Newcastle are due for a win and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. I just feel that Souths are still learning how to play together and with key players missing from the preseason and Sam Burgess not playing it makes it a tad harder. Hopefully I am wrong but I can see the game being decided by 10 points.

Wherever you’re watching the game, I hope you have a good one. I’ll be back after the game to give you my verdict.

Until then….

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