A View From The Stands

Round 3 Rabbitohs V Roosters – Mavo Dives In

Preface

The Rabbitohs have certainly been through a tumultuous time of late. We lost Sam & George Burgess, GI & Sutto leaving us with a depleted roster. Richo goes but not before we gain Latrell & a couple of surprise forwards in Sele & Mago.

Then it’s one drama after the next. Latrell, Jimmy & Cody put the team in the headlines then GI drops a bombshell. If ever we needed some footy to get us back on track it’s now!

Beaten by the Broncos

It’s been a long time between drinks thanks to the dreaded Covid shutdown. When the Bunnies run on the field this Friday it will be 10 weeks to the day since their last game when they were rolled by the Broncos at Suncorp on the 20th March.

This is a loss we’d rather put behind us, it was frustrating to watch & a Stagg hat trick spoiled any chance the Bunnies had of winning the game.

The Broncos lost Croft in the 11th minute & were down to 16 men so we had them on the ropes but didn’t land enough blows to put them away.

Latrell chimed into the back line early with a class quick hands ball to Graham who just failed to score but then the Broncos took charge.

Stagg exposed some brittle defence on the left edge then the Milf carved us up in the middle making it all look too easy. The Broncos forwards were rolling, they were cruising at 10-0.

To their credit the Rabbitohs steadied the ship. A super Cody Walker cutout pass to Graham put us on the board & then a Latrell short pass to Jimmy The Jet saw Cody back up to level the score. A penalty goal handed us a surprise 12-10 halftime lead.

The 2nd half started like the 1st with Stagg finding the stripe with too much ease then Herbie goes bananas to help Stagg bag a treble.

AJ injected some spark off the bench & we somehow found ourselves with a late chance to score & produce an unlikely comeback. This of course didn’t happen & we’ve had an extra long wait to lament where we went wrong.

Friday night v the Chooks @ Bankwest

I only have fond memories of clashes with the Chooks when I was playing for the Rabbitohs in the late 80s. In 7 games we won 5 & I scored 5 tries. I couldn’t tell you one thing about the losses but the wins & tries remain embedded in my brain in my happy place as a pleasant highlights package. My favourite is round 2, 1988 when I scored a try on full time to seal the Rabbitohs first win at the the new Sydney Football Stadium. Scoring a try for Souths is great, scoring against the Chooks is unreal, scoring a try to win the game against the Chooks is the ultimate (just ask Adam Reynolds).

Roosters supporters are a different breed, they have this inferiority complex & feelings of envy that will never go away when it comes to the mighty Rabbitohs. It must be tough to be forever in the shadow of the pride of the league & the banter I enjoy with my numerous Rooster mates will never get old.

The most fantastic news from the early 2020 NRL season is that the back to back premiers suffered back to back defeats & that leaves them with an 0-2 start.

The loss of Cooper Cronk & Latrell Mitchell had an immediate effect as did the absence of Boyd Cordner. No Cronk has pointed the spotlight on the Roosters new halves pairing & whether their kicking game is up to scratch. Alarm bells are ringing at Bondi & if the Bunnies can extend their losing streak to 0-3 panic may set in.

My predicted scenario for this game is Latrell Mitchell to play well & we win. The bear has been poked so I’d love to see him go out & ravage the opposition. This would rub salt into the wound. Even better would be a try from Latrell in a win or if I dare to dream a Latrell match winning try (think Adam Reynolds/Steve Mavin).

We’re going to miss Cody Walker but there’s big wraps on Troy Dargan so here’s hoping he has a blinder on debut, we definitely need it against a Chooks team frothing to bounce back & get a win on the board. The Morris twins reunite & the return of Cordner strengthens an already ridiculously talented Roosters team.

The key to victory for the Rabbits lies in a tightened defence & our forwards laying the platform for our backs to shine. We saw some good signs in the first 2 rounds from Burgess, Knight, Tatola & Sua. We know what Cook & Murray can do so they just need to go out there & produce. Magos return is a further boost, his early form before he tore his pec was encouraging.

The new 6 again ruck rule might allow Cook to explode into action with more regularity. There’s no better sight than seeing our Kangaroos hooker darting into the clear. I think we can win but we’ll need to be at our best & get all the little things right. Complete sets, control the ball & play disciplined footy. Get to our kicks & don’t give away penalties. It’s a simple formula but if they can manage to achieve that then we have the squad to compete with anyone.

Bankswest Stadium

I went with the missus to Souths first game at the new Parra Stadium aka Bankwest in round 12 last year when we lost to the Eels 26-14. I was curious to check out the arena & now that it’s the Rabbitohs new home ground for a while, here’s a summary for when the crowds can return.

We decided to stay overnight at the Mantra which is only about a mile away from the ground. There’s limited parking at Bankwest Stadium but there’s quite a few parking stations in the area & we parked at the hotel car park.

We went to Parra Leagues before the game, went upstairs & found a great table overlooking the stadium at Pablos Cantina Y Cerveza. The food was alright but the highlight was the beer brewed on site by Jacks Brewery. I do love a good craft beer, there’s something special about a pint or 3 of freshly brewed pale ale before kickoff.

We decided to check out the rest of the club & this turned out to be a mistake. On this busy evening the sports bar was packed, the auditorium is now filled with pokies so it was standing room only. We left & went to the ground.

The amenities at Bankwest are quite good, we bought higher category seats & the view of the action was great. You can also walk down & watch the game around the 20 metre line behind the disabled seats. It’s standing room only but it’s an awesome view there. The variety of food is nice but even though there’s plenty of bars we still had to line up too long for my liking & it wasn’t a sell out crowd (21645). My other gripe is that they only sell mid strength beer which I’m not a fan of. This trend across stadiums in this country is ordinary as far as I’m concerned. If they want people to come to games then let them drink quality beer not the watered down stuff. Anyway I found a loophole, the cider & red wine is full strength so that’s what I tucked into.

After the game we drowned our sorrows in Church Street which was surprisingly vibrant on a Friday night. There’s some decent pubs & eateries along this strip & its just a shame that we weren’t celebrating a win.

Conclusion

The betting is Roosters $1.35 Rabbitohs $3.20 so yet again the evil empire is favoured to win. I say bring on the Chooks, Souths by 4.

A bright note before I go is that the leadership structure at the Rabbitohs looks solid now going forward. With Blake Solly at the helm, Wayne Bennett in charge & Jason Demetriou waiting in the wings we are in good hands. The club is also as closely aligned with the Juniors as it’s ever been & once this Covid fog clears that partnership will continue to flourish.

On Rabbitohs Radio podcast this week we speak to Souths CEO Blake Solly, if you haven’t listened yet please give us a go.

Steve Mavin