BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Three weeks ago, the South Sydney Rabbitohs put on the performance of the season when they blew passed the Melbourne Storm. It had many, including yours truly, believing they were untouchable – that no team could come near them.
That victory against the Storm was the perfect mix of speed, power and skill. A team in total control. It was an avalanche and the Storm couldn’t get out of the way.
Then they ran out the following week to face their fiercest foes. Souths looked tired and at times, disinterested. Their heroic leader, Sam Burgess, was a shell of his usual self. It was easily his worst performance in the National Rugby League. He made youngster Victor Radley look like Gorden Tallis. Radley took Burgess on and won by knockout.
In the other big showdown, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves took the Burgess twins on single-handedly. And guess who won that? JWH, of course. It was on points but a win nonetheless.
Things got worse for the Rabbitohs last night.
Souths were smashed 38-18 by a Brisbane Broncos side in turmoil. A team that can’t even organise a few XXXX over a 6 burner. It’s a far cry from the side that destroyed the Storm.
After the game I shared my thoughts on Twitter: “Hope Souths fans aren’t blaming the loss on missing some backs. If the forwards did their job Souths win tonight.” This was referring to the fact that the Rabbitohs were without Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Robert Jennings and Campbell Graham. It’s a fair list. Nobody is denying any side wouldn’t miss them. But the argument in response to my tweet bordered on Denial 101.
One said, “Yes mate, nothing to do with inexperienced backs making poor reads time and time again in defence at all.”
All well and good if you ignore how the Broncos consistently got to those positions on the field.
Last night South Sydney boasted three English Internationals (one of which was Sam Burgess – arguably the game’s best forward), two NSW Blues in Damien Cook and Angus Crichton and John Sutton who has never played better footy. And that was just the starting pack.
Only George Burgess and Crichton ran for more than 100 metres in South Sydney’s engine room. Slammin’ Sam could only manage 73 while brother Tom finished with 51.
In comparison, Joe Ofahengaue, Sam Thaiday, Tevita Pangai Junior and Josh McGuire all eclipsed 100 for the Broncos.
Yet people still want to hammer the outside backs?
The responsibility of a 20-point drubbing doesn’t fall at the feet of a Richie Kennar or Hymel Hunt.
”…We lacked effort tonight, individually and collectively as a group,” coach Anthony Seibold said post-match.
”And when you’re down a little bit on quality, you need to win the effort battles and I don’t think we did that tonight.”
South Sydney’s young backs may have been shown up but they were absolutely, unequivocally let down by their big men.
We're joined tonight by @WestsTigers & @westsmagpies legend @skando76, @AndrewRLP from @rugbyleagueproj and "Fossil Nuts" AKA Curtis' dad! – LIVE 10.30pm on https://t.co/WuVllZb6G4 #NRL #FNLLIVE pic.twitter.com/hZzF9Ke1Ja— #FNLLive 10.30pm Friday (@The81stMinute) August 16, 2018
Any Rabbitohs fans who think otherwise need a reality check.
Next week, Souths play the Raiders in Canberra on a Saturday afternoon.
Can you spell danger game?