They needed to do it the onerous method with a second consecutive sluggish begin, however the South Sydney Rabbitohs made it seven wins on the hop with victory in Canberra over the Raiders final night time to kick-off Spherical 8.
There’s loads of unpack from the sport, however the efficiency half Adam Reynolds put collectively throughout the second 40 was excellent for the guests, and speaks volumes of his affect over one of many real premiership contenders.
And but, bafflingly, he can’t land a brand new contract at Redfern, with all of the speak in the previous few days that he shall be heading off to Cronulla underneath new coach Craig Fitzgibbon from 2022.
Reynolds is constant, and even at his age, nonetheless probably the greatest within the sport with an impressive kicking sport and sensible imaginative and prescient as was on show final night time, being concerned within the lead-up to loads of South Sydney’s scoring alternatives. Not solely that, however he is a wonderful goal-kicker, solely throwing extra chilly water on the choice of the Rabbitohs to seemingly not make his contract a precedence.
Whereas he didn’t have an help immediately credited to him final night time, Reynolds had a blinder of a second-half, the place he has averaged nearly 400 metres per sport off the boot. His long-range kicking sport permits the inventive gamers like Damien Cook dinner and Cody Walker to go to work round him, enjoying their pure roles and video games, and it fits South Sydney’s sport type all the way down to the bottom.
In fact, it’s not simply Reynolds and the efficiency of the remainder of the staff during the last seven weeks has been excellent, however each high staff wants their common, the man who leads and directs them across the park, and for Wayne Bennett’s aspect, that man is Reynolds.
Final night time’s sport actually might not be the cleanest efficiency the Rabbitohs have ever put collectively although, and a few worrying parts are creeping into their play during the last fortnight which Bennett will wish to tackle in a rush.
(Photograph by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Photos)
Chief amongst them is the defence, to go together with the sluggish begin two weeks in a row. Regardless of the Raiders being rocked within the pre-game by the late withdrawal of George Williams to go together with a bunch of different absences together with captain Jarrod Croker and gun fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, the Rabbitohs nonetheless discovered themselves behind on the scoreboard at halftime for the second week on the trot.
Identical to final week over the Gold Coast Titans, the boys in cardinal and myrtle had been capable of come from behind and get the job achieved, nevertheless it wasn’t all that fairly, and nonetheless asks loads of questions of the aspect.
Gifting away a headstart would possibly work towards the Titans or a busted-up Raiders outfit, however do it once more towards sides just like the Storm or Panthers within the coming weeks, or as soon as we get to September and knockout rugby league, and relaxation assured it received’t work so effectively for the Bunnies.
There’s a line of thought which might counsel wins at this level of the season are good regardless of the way you get them, however given the development creeping in during the last two weeks, remembering they ended up letting in 30 factors final week towards the Titans, it’s complacency Bennett will wish to stamp out because the Rabbitohs look to push for the premiership.
They’re one of many favourites, proper up there towards the Panthers at this level, however they need to make it occur this 12 months as a result of Reynolds leaving isn’t going to do their probabilities and premiership window any good shifting ahead.
(Photograph by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Photos)
In fact, you’d nonetheless a lot favor to be in a camp with seven straight victories than that of the Inexperienced Machine, who had one other second-half fade out to make it 4 losses on the bounce.
It’s the third week in a row they’ve been utterly and totally overwhelmed throughout the second half, and questions should be requested of coach Ricky Stuart in final night time’s encounter. The best way he managed his bench nearly actually helped the guests over the road.
Regardless of clearly wanting gassed all through the second half – and it’s hardly a shock given their harm toll and the necessity to basically play an additional ahead throughout the sport – the Raiders didn’t utilise all their gamers to the fullest extent.
Ryan James might have put in a wonderful first stint, however was by no means seen once more after his 23 minutes of motion whereas Iosia Soliola performed simply 9 minutes and Siliva Havili underneath half an hour.
Three gamers enjoying restricted minutes places immense strain on the remaining figures within the staff, and that was precisely the way in which it appeared final night time, with Canberra falling away badly throughout the second half and struggling to match the depth of the Rabbitohs throughout the second 40.
That might even have one thing to do with what Wayne Bennett mentioned to his troops throughout the halftime break, with Bennett extensively acknowledged to be probably the greatest ‘halftime coaches’ within the sport.
That was on full show in Canberra final night time, in addition to the multitude of causes South Sydney ought to transfer heaven and earth to maintain their gun half.
Alas, it doesn’t appear like it’ll occur, and the Rabbitohs premiership window will slam shut on the finish of the 12 months.
Now, the query shall be whether or not they can discover that glory earlier than it does.
If they will tackle their defence and first halves, it’d take a courageous man to write down them off utterly.