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Opinion

Souths may have put on 60-point clinic, but is their defence still a huge question mark?

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24th July, 2021
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The South Sydney Rabbitohs put on an absolute clinic against the underwhelming New Zealand Warriors, who conceded 11 tries to the rampant Bunnies while three players scored a double for the red and green.

The three in question were prop forward Tom Burgess, winger Josh Mansour and second-row forward Jaydn Su’A.

Rabbitohs dummy-half Damien Cook was also flawless in attack, as the NSW and Australian representative set up three tries, ran for 128 metres, produced three linebreak assists and made 36 tackles with zero misses. Lock forward Cameron Murray played only 54 minutes against the Warriors but still managed to score a try and run for 197 metres.

Souths second-row forwards Keaon Koloamatangi and Su’A both played 80 minutes and combined for three tries, 44 runs for 434 metres, along with 167 post-contact metres, two offloads and 49 tackles with one miss. The Rabbits’ spine were all on the same page as well as they combined for three tries, three try assists and eight linebreak assists.

Josh Mansour finally returned to the side after being dropped by Wayne Bennett to allow the veteran winger to work on his defence and even though the Bunnies mostly had the ball against the Warriors, the former representative winger was good in defence, apart one moment when he missed a tackle on Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who set up a try for five-eighth Kodi Nikorima.

The South Sydney bench were also very good, especially Jai Arrow and the underrated Patrick Mago. The two bench forwards combined for 341 run metres, 137 post-contact metres and 24 tackles with three misses. Only five Rabbitohs players ran for under 100 metres, which really shows how dominant they were and how poor the Warriors’ defence was.

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The injury toll for the Warriors continued as second-row forward Jack Murchie and bench forward Eliesa Katoa failed their head injury assessments in the first half and fill-in captain Addin Fonua-Blake suffered a compound fracture in his finger that will force him out for a while.

Only two Warriors players made the 100 run-metre mark – forward Matt Lodge with 107 and winger Watene-Zelezniak with 156 run metres.

The Rabbitohs have proven time and time again that they can score whenever they want, but coach Wayne Bennett will be mainly focusing on his side’s defence. I’m sure the veteran coach knows that the Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers will run through them if they don’t fix it up soon.

Souths actually face the Penrith Panthers again in Round 23, which will show us if they can actually compete and keep up defensively against the top two clubs in the competition.

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