A View From The Stands by Browny & Mavo

This Review & Preview was written by Darren Brown & Steve Mavin for The Warren website.

Rabbitohs 60 v Roosters 8 – Round 20, 2020 Review by Darren Brown

The rivalry between the Sydney Roosters & the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league teams is regarded as the fiercest and oldest in Australian sport, and last weeks game was no different.

The Ron Coote Cup was built up to be a one sided affair with all the experts predicting an easy victory to our arch rivals.

However someone forgot to tell that to Wayne and the boy’s from Redfern.

The Rabbitohs went into the game with a huge underdog tag after a disappointing loss to the bottom of the table Bulldogs the week before, unlike the Roosters who were looking to notch up their 6th straight win.

Missing from our line up was enforcer Jaydn Su’A and from the outset the Roosters took full advantage. The Chooks got off to a fast start scoring after 3 minutes and nearly crossing the line a short time later. For the first 10 minutes we were on the back foot and struggled to compete with the 2nd place Roosters.

After weathering the storm and once we gained some quality field position Cody Walker crossed for the first of his 2 tries off a great pass from skipper Adam Reynolds down the right edge to lead 6-4.

Then as they say…the rest is history.

In my opinion it was the best performance by a team this year and arguably the best game by an individual player, that being Cody Walker.

Cody was instrumental in everything we did scoring 2 tries, 3 try assists, 167 run metres, 7 tackle busts, 2 line breaks and 3 line break assists. A 10 out of 10 performance.

Adam Reynolds was over shadowed by his halves partner but also had a superb game playing a leading role. Reyno had a hand in several tries and built pressure with his ever so accurate kicking game.

There were multiple milestones achieved in this battle including 50 career tries to Cody, 100 to Alex Johnston & Reyno securing the top NRL point scorer for 2020. It was beautiful to watch us orchestrate a great win against one of the favourites to win the title.

The 60-4 win was set up by an 84% completion rate which gave our spine the opportunity to play some great football. The attack that was on display was second to none with us scoring some spectacular tries and our prolific try scoring machine AJ achieving yet another milestone scoring 5…yes 5 tries to top the try scoring list with 20.

The most memorable try of the game was when we sent an attacking raid down our left edge, AJ then drew the fullback and put Corey Allan on his way to the try line. Then all of a sudden Corey hears AJ calling for the ball so he can score his 4th try but more importantly join Kyle Feldt at the top of the try scoring list with 19 tries for the season. It’s what this club is all about, unselfishness and team morale. Well done to Corey Allan.

Special mention to Allan who I thought played exceptionally well and had his best game for the club to date. His involvement and ability to be around the ball was exciting to watch.

Our forwards, led by Liam Knight with 181 running metres absolutely dominated the opposition pack with some powerful running and brutal defence. Junior Tatola returned from injury and Cameron Murray moved to the right edge giving Liam the opportunity to start at 13.

Keaon Koloamatangi was once again a standout coming off the bench, he ran for big metres with an impressive post contact stat which set the team up for our attacking raids.

With the finals around the corner, it was important that we got back to winning form and there’s no better team to do that against than the Chooks. They had no answers for us once we clicked into gear.

Our performance was a shot across the bow of every team in the finals series.

Bring on the Knights next week.

1st Elimination Final: Rabbitohs v Knights ANZ Stadium 4pm Sunday 5th October 2020 Preview by Steve Mavin

Since the current 8 team finals system was adopted in 2012 no team from outside the top 4 has won the premiership. In 2017 the 8th placed Cowboys managed to make the grand final only to be rolled by the Storm juggernaut. It’s not impossible to do but being asked to win 4 finals games in a row against all the best teams is extremely difficult to say the least.

It’s never happened but some day surely it will & 2020 could well be the year if the Rabbitohs keep producing the scintillating form they conjured up in their final round dismantling of the Chooks.

This dreaded Corona virus has changed the world as we know it so a history making run by the Rabbitohs would be a shining light in a year filled with darkness.

The Rabbitohs host the Knights in a sudden death battle at ANZ this Sunday & it’s a game they are expected to win after flogging the back to back premiers in the final round of the season.

Throw in the fact that the Knights were smashed 36-6 by the resurgent Titans & it’s hard to make a case for anything other than the Bunnies cruising into the second week of the finals.

Finals footy does however not always follow the script, this is a new week, a new game & the team can’t afford to be complacent in the slightest. Master coach Wayne Bennett will ensure this won’t happen.

The Bunnies are well aware of what the Knights can do after they were beaten by Kaylin Pongas men in round 10 at Bankwest Stadium. The Novacastrians shot out to a 20 nil lead that could’ve been even higher if Ponga had converted more than one goal. The Bunnies failed to score a point until the 65th minute of the game on their way to a 20-18 defeat.

Since then both teams have had their ups & downs with only a single point separating them at the end of regular season, the Rabbitohs on 24 & the Knights 23.

Souths come into this clash riding a tidal wave of confidence with star performers throughout their lineup. The Knights limp into the game picking up the pieces of a season that promised so much but has begun to crumble when it matters most.

The Knights let the Titans score 7 tries against them last week & now face a Rabbitohs team that scored 10 tries when they embarrassed the Chooks.

Campbell Graham didn’t play in the round 10 loss to the Knights & his 10 tries in the last 7 games makes him the form centre of the competition.

Jaydn Su’A (who we spoke to on the podcast this week) has emerged as an enforcer & played a pivotal role in a Souths pack that has silenced many of its early season critics. Bayley Sironens elevation to a starting back rower on the left edge has seen him perform at a consistently high level on a weekly basis.

Keaon Koloamatangi forced his way onto a solid bench & has now become an integral member of the team with his powerful running & hungry work rate.

Cody Walker is in superb form & is almost unstoppable at the moment. Adam Reynolds is also back showing the form with the ball & boot that took us all the way in 2014.

Corey Allan has been brilliant at the back & is starting to realise the talent that he promised as a dazzling young star player.

We’re also lucky enough to have 2 of the best players in the NRL, our Origin heroes Damien Cook & Cameron Murray. Both of these blokes have the ability to turn the game in our favour, Cooky with his blinding speed out of dummy half & Cam with his equally impressive ability to play the ball quickly & give his team the jump on retreating defences.

We have plenty of big guns ready to fire on a Knights team playing away from home but aside from all of that perhaps the most important thing the Rabbits need to remember is that defence wins big games & any team containing a young superstar by the name of K. Ponga is a dangerous proposition.

The Bunnies just need to get the simple things right like defence, holding the ball & completing sets. If this occurs then the entertaining rugby league that we all love to see will charge through the opposition like a 309 bus hurtling down Botany Road.

I tip the Rabbitohs to make another statement with a convincing victory & roll on into a big finals run.

The Knights should start preparing for yet another Mitchell Pearce led Mad Monday celebration & if any of the Knights players happen to be reading this then don’t worry boys there’s always next year.

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