By STEVE MASCORD CHRIS Sandow says the quality of his football will determine whether he returns to the NRL when his Warrington contract expires at the end of next year.
The former Parramatta no.7 is one game away from a Challenge Cup final at Wembley after the Wolves’ 20-18 success on Friday night at Halliwell Jones Stadium and says he’s enjoying the attack-oriented Super League.
“We can throw the footy around a bit more over here – that’s what Smithy (coach Tony Smith) wants us to do, use the ball,” Sandow tells League Week. “But we’ve just got to do it at the right time.
“The hamstring injury set me back. I did everything to come back and I’m feeling really good about myself. But it always takes time to come back after something like that. A hamstring, that’s a big injury.
“I just progress each week at training.”
Parramatta have been embroiled in in-fighting, a salary cap scandal and the loss of star signing Kieran Foran since his mid-season departure in 2015.
“I still keep in contact with some of the boys back home but I’m over here and I’ve got to worry about my team here,” Sandow said. “I’ve got to keep progressing and winning games for Warrington.
“I’ve still got some good mates back home in both (Parramatta and South Sydney) and I wish them all the best. I moved over here to continue my dream of playing rugby league and I’m enjoying it.”
Could he be rejoining those mates in 2018? “I’m here til next year. I’ll let my footy do the talking. The club’s been really good to me so hopefully we can work something out, the club and my manager.”
WHEN we went to Parramatta with claims Chris Sandow had played in an aboriginal knockout and been sent off for a shoulder charge followed by an elbow, Eels CEO Scott Seward told us: “He had permission to play. He passed a medical and the coach gave him his blessing. Chrissy has told us he was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on a childhood friend. It was a bit of a joke between them.” But bootleg video on YouTube above appears to show a dismissal – with the elbow chiefly to blame. When Seward put this to Sandow, he insisted he wasn’t aware he had been sent off, only sin binned. We can’t find any record of a judiciary hearing. The title for the Murri Carnival at Redcliffe two weeks ago changed hands when it was discovered the winners, Murri Dingoes Blue, fielded a player who mistakenly believed his drugs suspension had expired. Parra’ refused permission for Joseph Paulo and Bereta Faraimo to play for the US in the Mitchelton Nines on Saturday.
PUNCHING ON 1
WE have often heard this year that “little guys wouldn’t be pushing big guys if they could still be punched”. It was just a theory until the Super League grand final, when little Lance Hohaia pushed big Ben Flower, then lunged at him with a raised forearm. As we know, Hohaia punched Flower twice, the second time when he was on his back, possibly unconscious. They both missed the rest of the game, leaving St Helens to limp to victory as they have all year. Had Flower – who left Old Trafford before fulltime – not opted out of Wales duty, he could at least have counted the upcoming European internationals against what will no doubt be a mammoth suspension. Condemnation of Flower has been widespread and almost unanimous. Soccer star Joe Barton Tweeted he had “little sympathy” for Hohaia because of the provocation, but later stressed he did not intend to defend the Welshman.
PUNCHING ON 2
LIKE Wigan’s Super League campaign, the proud 15-year-plus history of the United States Tomahawks may have come to an end with a punch at the weekend. The USARL is taking over running the game in the US and is likely to dispense with the old AMNRL trademark, meaning it was all on the line when the Americans trailed invitational side Iron Brothers 8-4 with three minutes left in a Nines quarter-final in Brisbane. The Tomahawks got the ball back but sometime-cage fighter Tui Samoa took umbrage to something a rival said and punched him. Water carrier Paulo – banned, as we said, by Parramatta from playing – helped separate them, Samoa was sent to the bin and Brothers scored again to eliminate the US 14-4.
GRACIOUSNESS AND GAFFES
AND what a mixed bag we had for rugby league public speaking at the weekend. On the plus side, congrats to departing Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, the club’s player of the year Ben Hunt and CEO Paul White for their oratory at the club presentation. “Ben Hunt was entitled to test his value on the open market but he didn’t,” White told around 500 guests. “Although at a backyard barbecue I was at, he did get his message across to me by changing the words of the Status Quo song to ‘down, down, prices are down”. Griffin said: “Whatever I do now, I’ll be a competitor. But I’ll never be a critic of this club or the people in it.” On the negative, St Helens’ Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, at fulltime on live TV: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I could fucking swear”. Yes, he said those words – in that order.
SOUTHS chief executive Shane Richardson has savaged the running of the international game in Britain’s The Observer. “I look at the state of international rugby league and it just makes me angry,” Richardson – citing the departure of Sam Burgess as a symptom of the problem – said. “I know from the years I’ve spent in the game, and the contacts I’ve made in business, and the places I’ve been around the world, that there’s a potential to do so much more.” Nevertheless, Greece played their first home international at the weekend, beating the Czechs 68-16 in Athens, the Philippines defeated Vanuatu 32-16 on remote Santo and Norway were preparing to meet Thailand in Bangkok. Next weekend, Latin America faces Portugal and Fiji takes on Lebanon, both in Sydney while Tonga take on PNG in Lae and the European Championships commence.
RETIRING ON A HIGH
REPORTS of veteran rugby league photographer Col Whelan’s retirement were greatly exaggerated last year. The NRL weren’t quite ready to take over Col’s operation and he went around in 2014 for one last season – wearing a South Sydney cap to every game. NRL rules prohibit media from wearing club merchandise but the media areas are full of uniformed club staff posting on social media, an inconsistency the irascible snapper sought to highlight. At fulltime on grand final day in the bunnies rooms, players became concerned Col had stopped shooting. He was crying with happiness. At the Red and Green ball, Whelan presented every player with a disc containing 120 photos of their life-defining triumph. What a way to go out – enjoy your retirement, Col.
Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round fourteen
The clash of the cousins in Cairns between Greg Inglis and Albert Kelly made headlines as the Rabbitohs won the high-scoring encounter 30-24 against the Titans. The late play which saw Queensland Origin star Inglis tackle Kelly, 22, to secure the result for Souths was much talked-about it was the defensive effort of Kelly and his Gold Coast halves partner Aidan Sezer which helped contribute to the loss for John Cartwright’s men. Kelly missed six tackles in the match (he made seventeen). Coupled with the fact Sezer missed four of his 12 tackle attempts, it is a concern for the Titans who will be short of tough-tackling duo Nate Myles and Greg Bird this weekend.
Parramatta’s Chris Sandow is slipping back to some of the habits that saw him dumped in NSW Cup last season. The Kingaroy native made only four runs in the Eels’ 32-14 loss to Cronulla. For a side which – despite losing to the Roosters the previous weekend – had put in an improved effort, it was surprising to see Sandow cede the initiative when on attack. Over the weekend in the halfback ranks, Robert Lui also ran only four times for the Cowboys but the difference was he had Johnathan Thurston who took on the line on, on 10 occasions. Sandow (in having Joseph Paulo) can’t afford the luxury of a catch and pass because the Paulo (five runs-36 metres) is unlikely to run too.
Following on from a position topic last week, it was another wanna-be fullback displaying great wing play to conclude round 14 action. Brisbane winger Josh Hoffman, in the same way Warriors fullback Glen Fishaii prefers the custodian role, produced a terrific performance playing left wing as the Broncos dispatched Wests Tigers. The 25-year-old had 10 tackle breaks as he ran in two tries, logged 129 metres from 13 runs and also assisted in a try.
Former London Bronco Craig Gower may be stuck playing hooker if Danny Buderus remains out for the Knights. Despite Gower’s stated desire to play halfback he was used primarily in the number nine role against the Storm in the Knights’ 16-14 defeat at the hands on Melbourne. Significantly, he was asked to play dummy half when the Novocastrians were chasing the game, even though Indigenous All Star Travis Waddell – who has been with the side since the start of the season – was available. The potential World Cup representative for Italy will be hoping 35-year-old Buderus is available in round 16.
Canberra’s Reece Robinson logged an interesting statistic on the weekend by making no tackles as the Raiders saw off Penrith 24-12. The Raiders fullback did make 18 runs for 149 metres with 10 tackle breaks to go with his 15th minute try as the Raiders joined three other teams on 16 points. Interestingly, in the near-84-minute struggle between the Bulldogs and the Sea Eagles, Manly’s fullback Peter Hiku only made one tackle so sometimes this rare duck is not down the teams attacking dominance.
By STEVE MASCORD IT’S the ultimate “Where Are They Now?”.
Since 1986, Rugby League Week has been asking 100 players a year who they rated the best new face in the game. That’s right, ‘Best New Face’ – not rookie, a word which carries plenty of rules and regulations on its back.
If you were perceived by your peers to be a “new face”, you were eligible.
The honour roll contains some of the biggest names in our game – Laurie Daley (1988), Steve Menzies (1994) and Greg Inglis (2006).
There’s also a preponderance of men who chose to take the road less travelled later in their careers and railed against the establishment – perhaps an indication that these sort of rebellious characters inspire instinctive admiration in their fellow players.
Craig Gower (1997) Mark McLinden (1998), Karmichael Hunt (2004), Sonny Bill Williams (2005) and Israel Folau (2007) were all spotted by the players at an early age as being destined for greatness. They were eventually spotted – and poached – by rival codes, as well.
Others in our list became steady, reliable first graders without becoming regular internationals – men like Darrell Trindall (1991), Matt Seers (1995), Colin Best (1999), Brett Firman (2003) and, so far, Chris Sandow (2008).
Our first two winners were Ian Roberts and Peter Jackson. Roberts became the first openly gay Australian rugby league player while Jackson played nine Tests for Australia before – tragically – dying of a drug overdose in 1997.
Jason Martin (1990) released a pop single under the tutelage of Molly Meldrum. After decrying the cold of Canberra for most of his career, Fijian Noa Nadruku (1993) ended up retiring in the national capital.
Braith Anasta (2001) probably loved the Players Poll that year but grew to loathe it when colleagues voted him “most over-rated” in subsequent seasons.
And then there are those who, to use the vernacular, didn’t kicked on so much. This group is led by 1992 winner David Seidenkamp.
The message from the list on this page is clear: just because you were voted by your peers as most likely to succeed, doesn’t mean you will. Scanning the honour board should give this year’s winner cause for excitement and caution in equal measure.
“There’s a reason they call it Second Year Syndrome,” says Daley, who will coach NSW in this year’s Origin series.
“When you pop up out of the ground, you can catch opponents by surprise. But then they analyse you and learn what you’re about.
“It’s easy when you’re a nobody. It’s much harder when you’ve started to become a somebody.”
Perhaps the five most recent winners should be the ones who inspire the most caution.
CHRIS SANDOW (2008) looked like he had the world at his feet. At the end of 2011, he moved from South Sydney to Parramatta on a contract Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe claimed on Twitter to be valued at $550,000 per season. The Eels finished last in his debut season there and he hasn’t been sighted in rep football.
JAMAL IDRIS (2009) was spotted well before his representative debut. He played for Australia in 2010 and looked unstoppable. At the end of the season, he was struck in the neck by a sword wielded by a cousin at Christmas. Four months later, he announced he would be joining Gold Coast in 2012. As was the case with Sandow, his debut season with a new club was a poor one for the whole team. He has not added to his solitary Australian and NSW appearances.
JOSH DUGAN (2010) was another ‘New Face’ that seemed to be pointed towards the heavens. He represented Country that year and the following season, the NRL All Stars and NSW. At the time of writing, his fall from grace has been the most spectacular of anyone to have won this category. He does not even have a club after he posted a picture of himself on Instagram drinking a pineapple cruiser when he should have been at training. His career remains in limbo.
TARIQ SIMS (2011) has suffered setbacks of another kind, breaking a leg twice since he burst onto the scene with North Queensland and gained selection in preliminary NSW squads. Sims’ has made another comeback this year, with the help of the plated ‘Terminator leg’, but his field time has been restricted so far this season.
So far in 2013, last year’s BNF
ADAM REYNOLDS (2012) hasn’t put a foot wrong and is pressing Daley for Origin inclusion. Reynolds seems mature beyond his years, isn’t contemplating any ill-advised changes of clubs and has not been seen with any pineapple cruisers. But injury is always hovering nearby, waiting to interrupt an otherwise promising career.
“If you ask me what I look for in a young player,” says Gower, now with London Broncos after a stint in French rugby union, “I would say consistency.
“Adam Reynolds, he’s doing his role for the team well. The way he is running the ship for Souths, he is organising attack, his defence is good, he seems to have a good kicking game.
“You keep doing that and eventually you start making breaks and suddenly you’ve had a GREAT game and then the media and the fans and everyone starts noticing you.”
Gower, now 34, doesn’t remember being voted the best new player across both competitions, the ARL and Super League, in 2013.
“But I know it was a good year,” he says. “I started the year at hooker, changed positions, played for New South Wales, went away on tour at the end of the year and played halfback in a great Australian side.
“There was Bradley Clyde and Laurie Daley and Ryan Girdler. I played halfback and kicked on from there.
“If you look at that list, most of them went on to play a reasonable about of footIball. Some of those guys like Idris and Sandow changed club and maybe that slowed them down and Sims got injured.
“But they’re pretty good footballers. I reckon they’ve got some good footy ahead of them, all of them.”
Daley is one of the few men on our list whose trajectory continued – with only injury enforced interruptions – for his entire career after being earmarked at an early age as a future great. His form did not suffer significant lulls, he did not go to another sport or fall victim to a major off-field controversy.
Steve Menzies, Ben Kennedy and Greg Inglis would be the others in this category.
“I was lucky,” he reflects. “I had Mal Meninga and these fellas in the team and Tim Sheens coaching and if you got too big for your boots, they’d knock you down a peg or two.
“I was surrounded by good players but also players who would pull you into line.”
Twenty-five years – is it really that long – since Daley was voted by his peers at the best new player in rugby league, he has advice for this years’ hot-right-now superstar.
“It’s great to get accolades but all it shows is that you’re doing something good right now, that people are starting to notice you,” he says.
“It doesn’t mean you should stop preparing exactly the way you did last year.
“It does mean you are starting to win people’s respect. It takes a long time to win respect.
“But it doesn’t take long to lose it.”
EVEN after an astonishing victory over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, Nathan Hindmarsh wasn’t willing to contemplate his career having a positive ending with Parramatta offloading the wooden spoon.
Brisbane players and their coach, Anthony Griffin, were left devastated as the bottom team in the NRL flogged them 42-22 in Monday Night Football, the Eels registering their second win since the departure of Stephen Kearney, who will be replaced next year by NSW mentor Ricky Stuart.
For Hindmarsh, the win represented a ray of light in a dismal season, his last before giving the game away.
“We’ve only won two back-to-back,” Hindmarsh said when asked if he now hoped for a positive conclusion to his career. “If we can play like this every week. Hopefully we’ll shake (the wooden spoon).
“We haven’t been thinking about it. It hasn’t come up in conversation unless it’s brought up by one of you guys. I think we’ve come to the conclusion that if we get it, we get it and who cares, really?
“As long as we got there doing our best and working hard for each other, we’ll cop whatever at the end of the year.”
Hindmarsh was at a loss to explain why the Eels have reversed their fortunes so dramatically since Kearney departed just under two weeks ago. The star last night was halfback Chris Sandow, who scored two tries last night after a season beset by criticism.
“I don’t know,” Hindmarsh said. “It’s unfortunate thing that happens, kind of – for the departing coach – but what can you say? It’s been happening for years and years. You see it happen over the years. As soon as Steve announced he was leaving, everyone got on us to beat the Melbourne Storm – and it happened.
“That’s the way it is.”
Hindmarsh said of Sandow: “There was a fair bit of pressure on him during the season. He was a big signing, he’s our halfback, he’s our general but he’s handled it pretty well and he’s come through the other side of it hopefully.”
Sandow said: “Critics are always going to have things to say and that’s fine. It’s been hard but we’ve started playing some good football. We want to end the year on a positive note.”
Hindmarsh feared the worst when Brisbane scored two tries early in the second half.
“It was a shocking start to the second half,” he said. “The way we spoke about it in the sheds, how important it was to come out firing, and own that first 10 minutes of the second half – we did the total opposite. A few of the boys got a bit nervous there … but we steadied the ship and stuck to what we were doing well in the second half.”
Griffin said: “We’re just doing too much talking and not enough action at the moment.
“I’m disappointed with everyone – including myself.
“We’ve had some losses … I don’t think our character could have been questioned. But tonight, we were certainly very embarrassing … apart from a couple of patches in the second half.
“We got what we deserved tonight. When we got back in the game, we still couldn’t hold together for a set.”
Thaiday added: “We were out-enthused, outplayed out-everythinged. We were terrible. We’ve got a lot of things to fix up. We’ve got to go back to work, hit the reset button and start again.
“It’s a very tough feeling and we’re embarrassed at the moment. I wish I had the answer. If I had the answer I’d bottle it and sell it to everyone.”
PARRAMATTA halfback Chris Sandow is starting to payback some of his $550,000 price-tag after slotting the winner in a late late show at Penrith on Saturday night at Jane McGrath Foundation Stadium.
With 34 seconds to go in golden point extra time, and after the Eels came back from 18-6 down with 12 minutes to go in normal time, Sandow was successful with his third field-goal attempt of the period to give the Eels their third win of the season, 19-18.
Eels coach Stephen Kearney said: “He hits them in training from 55 metres out and trust me they all go sailing through the posts. I was getting a little frustrated.”
Sandow said of his first two attempts: “I hit them wrong.” The former Souths halfback’s winner was the sixth field-goal attempt in the match.
While Sandow won the plaudits with the field goal, it was skipper Nathan Hindmarsh – with a hand in two tries late – that carried the Eels back into the match. In addition to his contributions to the tries, which included a last pass to Luke Burt, Hindmarsh ran for 181 metres in 20 runs while making 40 tackles.
Kearney said of the inspirational skipper: “I thought he had an enormous game tonight. It was a real skipper’s role both in defence and with the footy. I thought he was tremendous.”
Kearney also indicated Hindmarsh may be excused from training again for part of the upcoming week after the tactic of resting him last week paid dividends.
Kearney said the addition of five-eighth Luke Kelly, a recent signing from the Melbourne Storm, was also influential. “Luke gives us some direction and talk,” he said. “All week at training he’s trained like that…We had a pretty specific structure that we wanted to stick to and I thought Luke did that fairly well tonight.”
Captain Hindmarsh admitted the side didn’t play well for periods of the encounter. “They scored there in the second half and then Chrissy (Sandow) didn’t kick off well and Luke Lewis has busted through they’ve scored,” Hindmarsh said.
“That gave me the shits. So it’s little things like that that are costing us games … disappointed there but I was very pleased with the way the boys defended in the first half. We gave away alot of penalties. We defended alot of back to back sets. In previous weeks we have crumbled in those situations. So I was very happy with the boys in that area of the game”
After field goal misses for Sandow and Penrith’s Harry Siejka in the final moments of regulation time the match went to the extra period.
In the first five minutes of extra time, a Cheyse Blair grubber nearly led to the Eels win. Teammate Ken Sio raced through but grounded the ball on the dead-ball line after Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote elected to shepherd it out.
Penrith then had a chance for a penalty when it appeared a Panthers attacker was tackled without the ball 10 metres out from the line. The officials ruled otherwise and Penrith turned it over.
A Jarryd Hayne field goal attempt from 55 metres out fell well short.
Starting the second period, Sandow missed his second attempt at field goal. In the final two minutes of the match Coote also missed one before Sandow nailed his winner from 30 metres out.
Kearney and Hindmarsh both agree Sio should have been awarded the try in the first period of gold point.
Hindmarsh said: “The team thought it was a try. If anything we thought ‘benefit of the doubt’ would come up.” Kearney went on to question the play surrounding the Sio no try in the first half. Referencing the interference from Coote’s legs, Kearney noted “four weeks ago that was a try.”
Penrith highlighted the incident when a Panthers player appeared to be taken out when the side was on attack in the first period of extra time.
Skipper Kevin Kingston said he thought it should have been a penalty before coach Ivan Cleary added: “It’s pretty obvious. It’s funny the only things they (the referees) actually adjudicated on that whole golden point, the only decision they gave was a forward pass against us which I don’t think was forward.
:Apart from that there was a knock on in there from Jarryd Hayne which for some reason (they didn’t call.) The referees just stopped. Doesn’t make you feel any better.”
The grand final coach of last year with the Warriors said of the close loss: “you can add that to a pretty long list this year. Four or five games where we’ve lead with ten to go and tonight up by 12 with 12 to go. Disappointing.”
To start the game, NSW lock Luke Lewis loomed up on the left edge of the ruck and was the recipient of a short ball form Siejka to open the scoring. After checking the ball’s grounding video referee Phil Cooley confirmed the try and moments later it was a 6-0 lead after a Luke Walsh conversion.
Panthers custodian Coote who was set to spend last weekend in the NSW Cup before a late call-up was at his best in the 26th minute in denying the Eels a try.
Sent to the video referee again, a no-try was ruled after Coote dislodged the ball from the grasp of Sio as the Eels winger attempted to ground it in the right corner. Sio wouldn’t have got the opportunity for a try had it not been for the miraculous pass he received from Blair who flicked the ball behind himself despite the attention of two Panthers defenders pushing him into touch.
The Eels had three chances to score in the final five minutes of the half but were only able to capitalise on one. First Sandow dropped what looked like a forward pass from Ben Smith before a Sandow cut-out pass was spilled by Sio.
Both those chances were close to the line but it was a play from inside their own half that finally got the blue and golds on the board.
Two minutes from the break a pass from Joseph Paulo was able to set up a Ryan Morgan try. From 60 metres out Morgan was outside his defender and beat Walsh, Coote and Geoff Daniela to race away for the four-pointer. Luke Burt ensured the scores where 6-6.
Penrith skipped out to a 16-6 with two tries in three minutes to Etu Uaisele then David Simmons.
Parramatta was hard on attack after got a goal-line drop offering them a repeat set before a Kelly pass was tipped by Hayne before Uaisele raced 80 metres to scored for his fourth try against Parramatta this season.
Two minutes later Simmons, who was a match-day replacement for Josh Mansour, scored with the last pass provided by Michael Jennings. Lewis set up the play after a big run down the left-hand side earlier in the set.
The Eels gave themselves a chance in the final twelve minutes when skipper Nathan Hindmarsh found Luke Burt with an inside ball to put the retiring winger into room on the left edge before he beat Coote to race in under the crossbar.
It was Hindmarsh again two minutes later, setting up the try that sent that match into golden point. The veteran forward found Fuifui Moi Moi before the barn-storming bench forward dummied then threw a pass to Hayne for the fullback to race the final 20 metres score in the same spot as Burt seven minutes earlier and send the match into the additional period.
On the injury front Eels hooker Matthew Keating sustained a concussion with 15 minutes to go and Panthers halfback Walsh left the field 12 minutes into the second half with a medial ligament issue in his elbow.
PARRAMATTA 19 (L Burt J Hayne R Morgan tries L Burt 3 goals C Sandow field goal) bt PENRITH 18 (L Lewis D Simmons E Uaisele tries B Austin 2 L Walsh goals) in golden-point extra time at Centrebet Stadium. Referee: J Maxwell/A Devcich. Crowd: 15,275.
GREG Inglis has only played fullback for three months but if his elbow holds up, he could well don the Queensland number 1 jersey for next month’s State of Origin decider. After another splendid effort as custodian, Inglis inspired South Sydney into fourth on the NRL ladder after defeating Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.
The likely absence of Billy Slater due to a PCL knee injury for the Suncorp Stadium match on July 4 has opened up the chance for Inglis to fill the void. However, his first-half injury from the Saturday night fixture could prove troublesome.
Concern for the Souths fullback came in the 22nd minute when Inglis appeared to hyperextend his arm in attempting a tackle on Jarryd Hayne. It was diagnosed by club doctor Andrew McDonald as a medial ligament strain, according to Fox Sports NRL sideline analyst Adam MacDougall, and Inglis played on after getting some tapping to support the injury.
“He’s okay<‘ said Souths coach Michael Maguire. “He just got it bent a little bit the wrong way.”
Souths officials said even if the injury was severe they wouldn’t know the extent of it until any further scans are taken. Maguire said the problem did restrict Inglis.
“He contributed a hell of a lot throughout that game even though he had that little elbow problem,” the coach continued. “They (club medical staff) taped it up so he couldn’t move his arm. So he was playing with one arm there at one stage.”
Of the prospects of a shift at Origin level to fullback, Maguire thinks Inglis would not be out of place. “I’m sure Billy will do everything possible to make sure he is there. I’m sure Greg would do a great job if he’s put back there. He has shown that for us. Greg has played five-eighth, fullback, he plays in the centres so wherever you put him he is going to do a good job.”
Maguire commented about the victory: “Definitely over the last couple of years this team has shown they can score points. It’s obviously about been able to work together in defence is the difference I see and the boys spoke about that through the week and they delivered thattonight.”
Evidence of the Rabbitohs’ defensive effort was the missed tackle count of 26-10 in their favour – a good effort considering the slippery conditions.
Continuing to search for answers with only two wins on the board and his job under fire, Eels coach Stephen Kearney noted: “we certainly got taught a lesson tonight in playing wet weather footy. I thought South Sydney were extremely good in that department. I think they didn’t make an error in the first half, 20 from 20 sets which in these conditions was a real good effort.
“I must say I was pretty pleased with the lads defensive effort there was just a couple of soft-ish tries… I thought certainly through the middle of the field the lads worked really hard but again we just couldn’t crack it. When we had the footy, the limited time we did have it up in good ball, I didn’t think we were composed enough there, which cost us.”
Kearney identified the play of the two sets of halves as the difference between the two sides. “In reverse I thought their halves played with alot of composure and when they got up into good ball they made us really pay for it. For the most part we did a fairly good job to be hanging in there, to be fair.”
Try-scoring machine Nathan Merritt notched up his 126th career try when he opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Merritt nabbed a clever chip from half-back Adam Reynolds to score in the right corner. Sharp-shooter Reynolds nailed the near-sideline conversion for a 6-0 lead.
The field position for the try was set-up by a penalty two minutes earlier when Eels back-rower Reni Maitua was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Inglis. The incident wasn’t placed on report but it could be an anxious wait for Maitua come Monday.
In final fifteen minutes of the half Parramatta had chances to test Inglis but didn’t take them, including an initial chance soon after the injury. Well on attack, the Eels elected not kick the ball towards the Bowraville junior and they were caught on the sixth tackle, forcing a turnover without a repeat set to attack.
The Eels defence was on over-time after was Maitua again penalised ten minutes from the break. On this occasion he was ruled to have taken out Inglis who was trying to attack a kick put up by Souths halfback Reynolds.
In the following set, despite the attention of two Parramatta defenders, Inglis was able to create the room for Hunt to plant the ball down in the left-hand corner for a four pointer. After review from video referee Pat Reynolds the Redfern-based outfit had their second try for the night and a 12-0 lead.
Hunt, who was originally omitted from the match-day 17 but returned after Shaune Corrigan sustained an injury in the warm-up, scored his third try of the season.
Souths opened the second half scoring in the second minute when Inglis once again featured prominently. The Queensland centre exposed the defensive frailties of the Eels $550,000 signing Sandow when he drew the half-back allowing room for Dylan Farrell to score. Another touch-line conversion from Reynolds saw the lead extend to 18-0.
After his first half indiscretions Maitua partially made upfor it scoring in the 58th minute to get Parramatta on the board at 18-6.
Souths appeared to be denied a clear try in the 65th minute when a bomb from Souths wasn’t caught be any Eels defenders. Souths centre Andrew Everingham eventually ended up with the ball before finding Luke Burgess who appeared to have a maiden NRL try. However video referee Reynolds adjudged Dave Taylor had impeded Sandow in his attempts to make a play at the ball.
Sandow had a chance to get something out of his first match against his old club when he intercepted a pass from Inglis. With Souths well on attack the pass intended for Farrell was snatched by Sandow who nearly ran the further 90 metres to the goal-line but was bundled into touch just shy of the try-line by fellow half-back Reynolds. Maguire said afterwards the play was “inspirational… He (Reynolds) put his head down and took off and that’s the sort of kid he is.”
The match was sealed in the 76th minute when Eels right-side defence, and more specifically Sandow, was left lamenting when a quick play the ball from Souths saw hooker Issac Luke find Michael Crocker with a short-ball. Crocker aimed his run towards Sandow, who hadn’t found his position quickly enough as marker, and scored with ease.
After praising the opposing halves of John Sutton and livewire Reynolds Kearney said of his own halves pairing of Sandow and Ben Roberts “I thought the halves did a fairly good job two weeks ago against the Sharks,” the coach said. “I thought tonight wasn’t a great performance by both of them”
Not just speaking about just the halves Kearney went on to say “I thought we took a bit of a backward step tonight.”
SOUTH SYDNEY 24 (M Crocker D Farrell J Hunt N Merritt tries A Reynolds 4 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 6(R Maitua try L Burt goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referees: A Shortall/B Suttor. Crowd: 14,212.