Souths error riddled and poor disciplined in victory
The Rabbitohs should consider themselves lucky to have won the game by a double digit margin in light of a fairly poor performance. Conceding a try after a dropped ball within the first 2 minutes with some very soft defence and a comedy of errors led to an atrocious first half showing. The Dragons scored a length of the field try off a restart as Kirisome Auva’a was nowhere to be found in defence as he still hadn’t run back into position after stopping to make sure Nightingale was okay in the in-goal area. The Burgess brothers in particular had a rather torrid night out. Their trademark handling errors were in rare form, combining for 6 out of the team’s 11 errors as well as accounting for half of their penalty count.
Despite this they went into half-time leading 14-12 and thanks to some 50/50 calls that turned out favourably for them they were able to make the most of their opportunities and produce a victory despite being well below their best.
Dragons halt their own momentum
The Dragons 24 points and 4 tries scored on Friday was the most amount of points they had scored in a game all season. Their attack wasn’t very refined and they did benefit from a lack of urgency in the Souths defence but they scored a few tries from long range and had a mountain of possession in their opposition’s 20m zone. In spite of this they chose to go for the penalty goal on 3 separate occasions on the goal-line instead of applying pressure and going for a try.
While Widdop’s conversion rate was poor their strategy of levelling the scores and settling for the 2 points killed off any momentum they had built and didn’t allow them to get on a roll or tire the Rabbits out in defence. In order for a team to successfully employ the Bennett Ball strategy they need to back their defence immensely or know that if they grind it out they’ll eventually score points. The Dragons have neither of those traits and should re-focus their efforts in attack.
Adam Reynolds firms for NSW 7
Reynolds had a slow start to the game missing a few goals he’d usually have converted and giving away a penalty for accidental offside in what was just one of the many silly errors made in the opening exchanges. However he recovered to give the Dragons a tough night out with his kicking game. Reynolds cross field kicks and bombs were absolute pin-point as they pulled up just on the try-line denying the chance of the Dragons gaining a 7 tackle set and allowing the Souths to force three line-drop outs. One cross-field kick to the corner late in the game set up Bryson Goodwin for his 2nd try of the evening and sealed the game’s result.
In a game that was immensely scrappy, Reynolds took charge of the game when he needed to and led his team to victory. NSW need a half that can produce points and keep them on the attack and it looks like it’s Adam Reynolds time to shine.
Cody Walker shows his versatility
After a good start to the season in his debut year Cody Walker was unlucky to be the man to miss out with the return of Reynolds from a broken jaw. With a lot of injuries to their backline though, Souths called upon Walker to play in the new position of fullback and he did a fairly good job of it. His positioning was off a few times and his kick returns were solid without being remarkable but he showed very good attacking instincts. He found himself being in the right place to take advantage of offloads and scored an impressive solo try right on half-time as he exploited a sliding Dragons defence and grubbered for himself near the goal-posts which he regathered and scored to give the Rabbits the lead going into half-time.
With the possibility of key players missing through Origin and future injuries Walker showed he can offer a deal of utility value moving forward.
In The Sheds
No injuries to report but Josh Dugan finished the game with his elbow heavily strapped after falling on it hard attempting to stop a try. It remains to be seen if it’ll rule Dugan out for any period of time but he’ll likely be spending a lot of time in the ice baths this week.
South Sydney- 34
Tries: Bryson Goodwin (14m, 74m), Dane Nielsen (33m), Cody Walker (40m), Kyle Turner (47m), Paul Carter (62m)
Goals: Adam Reynolds 5/7
St George- 24
Tries: Jake Marketo (2m), Tim Lafai (26m), Kalifa Fai Fai Loa (53m), Will Matthews (77m)
Goals: Gareth Widdop 4/7