RABBITOHS v RAIDERS 15/5/2021
It was a battle between two massive last-out losers and all it took was a pretty underwhelming performance from the Rabbitohs for them to down a toothless Cronulla Sharks outfit 32-22.
Admittedly, there was a point when I thought we were going to be rundown by the said gummy Sharks. Having raced away to a 20-0 lead, I was feeling ill as the Sharks fought back to within four points (20-16) with 15 or so minutes to play. The momentum, if that's what you call it in such a game, was with Cronulla ... and Souths looked gassed.
It was around this point that Braidon Burns, who had a pretty good game until then, looked completely out of sorts and needing to start a quiet night in front of the TV with a cup of cocoa.
The game had started so well for the Rabbitohs with Benji Marshall in control. Firstly, his short ball after a double pump set up Keaon Koloamatangi and then a rocket-like pass that cut-out two backline colleagues and looked destined for the stands, was snatched out of the air by flying winger Alex Johnston who scored in the corner. We were 20 minutes in and surely nothing could go wrong!
And, then with Jaydn Su'a sent to the naughty corner for 10 minutes after a slightly high shot we managed another try - this time to Cody Walker on the back of a Dane Gagai bust.
But of course Souths turned off, as they have done so many times this weird season, and the Sharkies were back in the swim.
So, it's 20-16 with plenty of time left and I'm hardly able to watch. My face is turning beetroot with frustration, and even a cleansing ale - Hawke's Patio Ale - isn't keeping me calm. And, out of nowhere we get a deserved penalty (of course, I'm totally biased, and it was hugely soft) that gets us in striking distance. Cody Walker duly provides the pork pie, and Jai Arrow (aka Archer in my household) with another try helps round round off our total to 32.
If we ever play for 80 minutes this year, our opposition is in deep trouble.
Interestingly, two players I've never been over-enthused about - Liam Knight and Burns - had really strong games.
Benji delivered the quality early but is a liability in defence as he struggles against old-age late in games. But, don't think I don't love what he's doing for this team, I just prefer him fresh off the bench.
So, onward and upward, This week we face the undefeated Panthers, but we will have gun fullback Latrell Mitchell back (let's hope he can stay on the field - no high shots mate) and also Josh Mansour on the wing. I'm not expecting too much, but if we play our best for 80 minutes we can win.