The Roar
The Roar


Foxx off AGAIN, Wighton grabs double and Latrell booed as Souths ease Demetriou pressure

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29th March, 2024
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Souths are on the board for 2024 after a hard-fought 20-16 win over the Bulldogs on a topsy-turvy afternoon at Accor Stadium that saw Josh Addo-Carr carried off again after another heavy collision.

It eases the pressure on Jason Demetriou, who can point to some improvements, not least that his side are no longer winless.

The coach in dire need of a win, will still have questions about the performance but can see some areas of encouragement. The attack was a lot better and the defence, in the face of a late Doggies onslaught, won Souths the game.

“I was proud of our tryline defence,” said the coach.

“We’re playing like a team that’s nervy, you can see that, but to keep turning up the way we did.

“I’ve said it all week and I said it last week: I’ve got a huge amount of trust in these blokes. I see every day how they work and how committed they are to each other, and we wanted to see that out on the field tonight.”

Addo-Carr left on the brink of half time after a heavy collision with Isaiah Tass and Latrell Mitchell, the second time he has failed to complete a game in two appearances this year.

He had been a late inclusion to the team after an AC joint injury in Round 1, but appeared to be unconscious after being bundled into on the final play of the first 40.


Mitchell was jeered by the Bulldogs fans prior to the Addo-Carr injury, ostensibly for a perceived dive in contact with Reed Mahoney, though once again, it would be hard to imagine such a minor incident being taken so badly had it involved anyone player.

He produced one exceptional moment to break the Dogs open in the first half, kicked a few goals but was, otherwise, not much different to anyone else on the field – yet was booed mercilessly.

The fullback was blameless in the Addo-Carr incident. Indeed, having caught the Foxx with his hip, he was the first to put him in the recovery position and look for his great mate’s welfare.

The Foxx will now miss next week’s clash with the Roosters under the mandatory standdown rules, and he wasn’t the only winger to go down. Alex Johnston departed early with a hamstring issue, though not after a return to form on the left edge that saw Jack Wighton score his first two tries in Souths colours.

Wighton might find himself in trouble with the judiciary following a tackle that looked like a hip-drop – though no penalty was awarded at the time – but immediately proved what he can offer to the Bunnies in attack.

He will nervously await tomorrow’s charges, as will Kurt Morrin, binned for a tip tackle on Cam Murray.


Ciraldo refused to be drawn on the Wighton tackle – he gave it the ‘didn’t see it’ treatment – but seemed upset that nothing was forthcoming, not least because Preston himself was binned for a similar tackle last Good Friday.

The coach finds himself again in the situation where he could be reasonably proud of the way his side played, but ultimately, didn’t win.

“12 months ago, if we’d have gone down 12-0 on a day like today, it probably would have kept going and got ugly,” he said.

“We did a lot of what we wanted to do today. We wanted to play the field position game and build pressure.

“Hopefully our fans can see how hard the guys are working. There’s a lot of effort there and I’m proud of that, but where we want to get to and what we think we can do, we need to execute better.

“There’s a bit of polish, a bit of belief in the game plan, a bit of understanding what each other’s strengths are and how we all fit into that.”

Souths show green shoots


It might be pushing it to say that Souths’ middle is good enough again, but they were certainly too good for the Bulldogs.

Demetriou has played about with his forwards, knocking Tom Burgess to the interchange, sending Murray out to an edge at times and swapping Keaon Kolomatangi from side to side, but today they seemed more inclinded to go forward first, find their points and then run their attack off that.

The Dogs have a clear weakness in the middle, which does make things easier.

They started with Liam Knight, who the Bunnies were happy to let go midway through last year, which gives an idea of the quality levels.

There’s never been much doubt that Souths could put on points if they got themselves going. The Roosters never let that happen. Neither did the Broncos. Manly did, but they proved even better at putting points back themselves.

Today, we saw what can happen when the confidence flows. More than once, Souths attacked from deep and got results, lining up early from the right tram and hitting Wighton and Johnston through hands.


Tallis Duncan, already a mini-Murray, did his best impression again to keep the middle service rolling and both Burgess and Tevita Tatola looked a lot more impactful.

There’s still questions about what Dean Hawkins brings that Lachlan Ilias didn’t, and Taane Milne still looks very shaky at times, but it was baby steps for a side that just needed to win.

With the ball, it was better, but the general lack of impetus was still there.

The pre-contact metres told that tale. Pre-contact metres are just the total run metres with post-contact metres removed, giving a read on line speed and how much a ball-runner was able to travel before meeting contact.

Souths were allowing 6.85m per carry in the first half, almost 90cm  more than the Dogs, half a metre more than the battered Roosters last night and a massive 110cm more than the Panthers’ superb first half.

Line speed is one of the free things that everyone can do, and it’s something that Souths could definitely do better.

In the second half, they were exceptional in goalline defence to keep the Dogs at bay, albeit against a side that didn’t always throw enough at them.


They had enough today in attack to get the points, and in that regard, this was a positive.

But with the Warriors and Sharks coming to Accor in the coming weeks, this has to be part one of the recovery, because there are plenty of areas that need improvement.

Canterbury continue to do the right thing

The Dogs have brought defensive intensity in all of their games this year, even in defeat, and have slowly added attack when they have had the chance.

It had to be that way around – reminder, they conceded an average of 32 per game in 2023 – and controlling that part of the game is what will deliver results in the long term, especially against the weaker sides in the comp.

Souths, for all their troubles, aren’t that quite yet. They throw a lot in attack, especially when they hold onto the footy, which they largely did.

Ciraldo will worry about the way his right edge defence was torched on several occasions by Wighton and Johnston, though plenty have struggled with Souths’ left edge in the past few years.


It’s a strange feeling to have a goalline defence that seems greatly improved and a long-range defence that doesn’t, though that might just have more to do with how Souths choose to play.

They’re not enormously fussed about accumulating pressure and certainly weren’t interested in it today.

Canterbury have a new team and have to bed it in, which takes time. All the stuff that you want from day one, the buy-in, scramble and fight, do seem to be there.

All the other stuff that takes time is not, but that’s exactly it. It takes time.

The individual parts do look better and, on a case-by-case basis, it’s clear to see the roster upgrade.

Blake Taaffe is a livewire, Josh Curran  was excellent on the wing and Stephen Crichton is already pretty much their best player.


The utility trio of Jaeman Salmon, Connor Tracey and Kurt Mann have already had to show that versatility and, somehow, it does seem to make sense.

The attack is still functioning as individuals a little more than a collective and the defence can be disconnected. But for a side that is now 1-3, there have been a lot more positives than negatives.