On Thursday, Harry Ramage ran his eye over the bottom four teams of the 2021 NRL season, and predicted how they will fare in 2022. Today I’m charged with Part 2 of the four-part series that we’ll pick up early next week.
It was a very nervous finish for the South Sydney Rabbitohs especially in the final minutes when former Rabbitoh Connor Tracey threw a ball to Josh Morris in the corner but it was called forward, and Souths won the game 22-18.
Here is what I got out of the Sharks and the Rabbitohs in Round 1.
The Sharks looked out at halftime of it but they fought back with some Shaun Johnson magic to Sione Katoa in the corner which really got them going. Johnson had two try assists and showed a lot of confidence in attack and defence.
William Kennedy looked very good at fullback under the high ball and also had one try assist with an offload to Katoa to score in the corner.
Souths’ forwards really set a platform in the first 30 minutes with Tom Burgess running for 106 metres for 13 runs, Liam Knight had 14 runs for 114 metres, Junior Tatola ran for 177 metres with 17 runs and Cameron Murray playing in the edge had nine runs for 63 metres.
Both captains scored a try with Adam Reynolds scoring in the 12th minute and Wade Graham scoring in the 33rd minute after Latrell Mitchell wasn’t able to stop Graham close to the line. Latrell didn’t have the star performance with the new Souths recruit having four runs for 50 metres, one tackle bust, one offload and a forced dropout.
Latrell played 58 minutes with Alex Johnston coming on to play fullback and looked very good in his 22-minute stint. Wayne Bennett was questioned about why Mitchell was subbed off and said:
“It was a plan, I had Alex there; I know I had to get Alex some game time. I’m not going to put Latrell under the pressure that he’s got to play 80 minutes right now.”
“ I’m not interested in making him play 80 minutes. It’s a whole different position for him, I want him to get used to that and want him to play without mistakes, he did that with the exception of one mistake. I was pretty happy with his performance.”
“It’s a different position; they do more running than anyone else. Fitness is an issue but he’s fit enough. But I just wanted him to get through today.”
The Sharks has 51 per cent possession, 55 per cent territory and had 1295 run metres compared to Souths 49 per cent possession, 45 per cent territory and 1228 run metres.
Aaron Woods had 16 runs for 161 metres, Andrew Fifita had 12 runs for 108 metres, Jack Williams ran for 105 metres with 14 runs and new recruit Jesse Ramien had 16 runs for 124 metres. Chad Townsend was kept fairly quiet during the 80 minutes.
South Sydney looked average in attack when Tatola, Knight and Burgess went off for their break, which other teams can use to their advantage during that 40-minute period.
South Sydney’s next game is against the Broncos, who had a good win against the Cowboys on Friday night with Payne Haas running for over 200 metres and David Fifita being his usual self in scoring the match-winner after a few tackle breaks, a line break and running 70 metres to score.
The Sharks’ next game is against the Storm next Saturday at home and we all know what the Storm can do, so the sharks have a lot to contend with next week. Johnson needs to play like he did against Souths week-in and week-out if the Sharks want to play finals in 2020.