THEY’VE lost two of their last three, fallen from the competition lead and star five-eighth John Sutton has joined the world’s best player on the club casualty list – but South Sydney are adamant they haven’t hit the wall.
Not much more could have gone wrong when the Rabbitohs hit 1300smiles Stadium last night. With five minutes to go, they were trailing North Queensland 30-0 and John Sutton had his sprained left ankle wrapped in ice.
He’s in danger of being out until the finals and sitting next to Greg Inglis in the grandstand. For weeks on end this season, the first Bunnies premiership in more than four decades looked inevitable but this shock loss leaves bitter rivals Sydney Roosters ahead of them on the table.
And on Friday, Souths face premiers and world champions Melbourne at AAMI Park.
“The way we played last week, we performed very well. We didn’t tonight,” said coach Michael Maguire, who said it was too early to speculate on how long Sutton would be sidelined after coming off in the 36th minute, when asked about his level of concern
“We’ve got to make sure we get something out of this game and take it into Friday night.”
Maguire also brushed off the fall from the head of the NRL just over a month from the finals. “We can’t focus on that,: he said. Our focus has to be preforming the way we know we can. There’s a lot of footy in front of us as well, a lot of games to be played.”
Halfback Adam Reynolds also twisted a knee while forward Jeff Lima was placed on report for a shoulder charge on Johnathan Thurston but prop Sam Burgess also flatly rejected the idea that the premiership charge has become bogged.
“Not at all,”the England forward said.
“Certainly it’s disappointing to lose the games but we’re not looking (at it like that). We’ll just move forwards. We’ve got Melbourne on Friday down there so we won’t be dwelling on that.”
The Cowboys, reeling from the death of former coach Graham Murray and the sacking of current boss Neil Henry, led 12-0 at halftime and should have extended that lead but for a disallowed Kane Linnett try after the resumption of play.
“Referee Devcich was out there saying ‘I can’t see a bobble’ but they took it off us,” said Henry.
But Linnett finished with a double anyway, while debut winger Kyle Feldt was outstanding and prop Matt Scott had run for 100 metres long before halftime.
“We spoke before the game about not doing it for any individual,” said Scott. “Things happened off the field during the week but we should be professional enough to get on with the job.
“Those of us who knew Muz (Murray), we grieve in our own time but when we’re out there on the field, we play rugby league.”
Scott even said he believed the Cowboys could still “sneak into the finals” even though it was :very frustrating” that they had left it so late in the season to turn on such a dominant performance
For Souths, Maguire said Inglis (knee) was “up and about” and would hopefully be back soon.
The gradulation of rookie Luke Keary will have to be fast-tracked after the Sutton injury. “Those sorts of things happen,” said Maguire.
“We weren’t playing to the quality we can when John went off anyway so we’ve got good replacements.”
NORTH QUEENSLAND 30 (K Linnett 2 B Tate T Sims R Lui tries J Thurston 5 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 12 (B Goodwin G Burgess tries A Reynolds 2 goals ) at 1300smiles Stadium. Referees; A Devcich/L Phillips. Crowd: 13,045.
Filed for SUN-HERALD