Media Reports



Rabbitohs do heritage proud with legend of Sattler on their minds
May 17, 2010

Wests Tigers 10 Rabbitohs 50

AFTER coach John Lang gathered his players in the dressing room to remind them of the privilege they were about to enjoy - playing on a ground where not only South Sydney greats like John Sattler but cricketing legends such as Don Bradman had performed heroic deeds - the Rabbitohs went out and knocked up a half-century.

And they had a ball doing it. Souths produced the sort of high-energy performance that can only come when you are really up for a game, and the Rabbitohs were that.

It's true the Tigers were a disgrace and their coach, Tim Sheens, and captain, Robbie Farah, apologised to fans for the performance, but the winners deserve plenty of kudos.

The fan invasion of the SCG at the end of the game might worry modern-day players who aren't used to such close contact with supporters, but the Rabbitohs considered it the icing on the cake.

''We were going over to say hello to our fans in the burrow,'' said hooker Issac Luke. ''But then they all came over the fence and we got ambushed. It was great - you play the game and then you enjoy the fans' company.''

Souths and the SCG go hand in hand, when you consider their history of winning grand finals when they were still played at the ground. It was where Sattler broke his jaw but kept playing to the end as the Rabbitohs won the 1970 grand final over Manly. But, as Lang pointed out to his players, the history of this place goes way beyond that.

After scoring two tries yesterday, Souths centre Beau Champion detailed the coach's pre-match speech, and how it was more about occasion than method. ''Langy spoke about the great players who had played for Souths here - the John Sattlers, the Bob McCarthys, and other legends - but he also talked about the great cricketers,'' Champion said.

''He mentioned Don Bradman and others and talked about how they had made themselves heroes here, and told us we should feel privileged to be playing here today.

''There's a picture of John Sattler on the wall at training, from the day he broke his jaw, with a quote from him that says: 'I play to win, everyone knows that.' Langy said that on this ground, of all grounds, we had to do all we could to win. He told us we were sitting in a dressing room that was home to some of the greats, and that we should soak it up and enjoy ourselves.

''We were really buzzing before the game. You could feel it at our last training session yesterday. This ground is such a place of history for Souths and we're always excited about playing here. I woke up this morning and started thinking about the game. I was really excited about coming here - I think we all were.''

The Rabbitohs-Tigers game is the only NRL game played at the SCG these days. When they played there last year, Souths winger Nathan Merritt got the win for his team with a field goal. Yesterday he scored three tries. Not surprisingly, he wishes Souths played there more often. The actual field is no bigger than any other, but with the cricket surrounds it feels spacious and Merritt has warmed to it.

''This ground is treating me well,'' he said. ''I reckon it's in my interests to play a few more games here - I love playing at the SCG.''

The Tigers never looked the goods. Their halfback, Robert Lui, scored a try in the 20th minute and five-eighth Benji Marshall converted to make it 6-6, but before and after that it was all Souths.

The Tigers didn't score again until after the Rabbitohs had hit 50\. Apart from scoring nine tries, Souths had two disallowed while they were still on zero and another disallowed while they were on 40.

Lang agreed the Tigers had been ''pretty bad'' and Souths had played better when they beat the Bulldogs 38-16 in round four but he was delighted with his team's defence. As an old hooker should, he loves it when they do the tough stuff well.

SOUTH SYDNEY 50 (N Merritt 3 B Champion 2 C Best C Sandow F Talanoa D Taylor tries I Luke 7 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 10 (C Lawrence R Lui tries B Marshall goal) at Sydney Cricket Ground. Referee: Tony De Las Heras, Steve Lyons. Crowd: 30,685.


Souths hit half-century as Wests Tigers crash to fourth straight defeat

By David Benuik
May 16, 2010

South Sydney wound back the clock for the NRL's heritage round, returning to the scene of some of their most famous victories to smash a woeful Wests Tigers 50-10 at the SCG.

The rampant Rabbitohs scored nine tries to two in a dominant display against a Tigers side that never looked in the match.

In front of more than 30,000 at the SCG, Souths five-eighth John Sutton sent a last-minute message to New South Wales selectors, displaying all of his sublime talents in wreaking havoc on the Tigers' defence all afternoon.

His dummies and one-arm offloads were a constant threat and he had a hand in at least two Rabbitohs tries.

Winger Nathan Merritt bagged a hat-trick of tries and Beau Champion a double, while Issac Luke booted seven from nine.

The Tigers have now lost four straight games and their promising start to the season is in tatters.

The Rabbitohs led 18-6 at the break and two tries to Champion in three minutes had them out to a 28-6 lead after 46 minutes.

Champion's second came after Tigers superstar Benji Marshall had fumbled a kick and Souths' next four-pointer, Merritt's second in the 48th minute, came after a Marshall passing blunder deep in his own territory.

The Tigers got across the line twice in the second half but knocked on both times and when Souths halfback Chris Sandow hit the chest of Colin Best with a perfect cross-field kick, it was 40-6 after 64 minutes.

Merritt added his third in the 70th after another Tigers error involving Marshall before winger Fetuli Talanoa compounded the embarrassment in the 72nd.

Sutton's brilliance was best displayed when he had sent Sandow over in the 29th minute with a great one-arm offload.

"He (Sutton) was in everything,'' coach John Lang said.

"He's been playing quite well but not at his best form. Until the bye, he was second in the competition on the try assists so he's got a tremendous talent.

"If we gel as a team, he'll go better.''

Meanwhile, Souths were forced to sing the team song twice after they were mobbed by an over-enthusiastic crowd in the wake of their big victory.

Thousands of fans jumped the fence at the SCG, even though they were meant to wait until a second siren around five minutes after the first.

The corner flags at the Randwick end were souvenired as Marshall lined up his final conversion attempt before advertising hoardings were also being carried away and a huge throng surrounded the players.

Souths winger Fetuli Talanoa was so late getting back to the change rooms because of the human traffic, the Rabbitohs sang the team song again when he arrived.

But the players seemed to have no dramas with a scene that had security staff scurrying to gain control.

"We had to sing it twice,'' said Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke.

"We just got ambushed.

"It was unreal. You play the game to enjoy the fans' company.''


By Wayne Cousins
16/05/2010 3:51:05 PM

Wests Tigers suffered its heaviest defeat of the 2010 Telstra Premiership with a 50-10 loss to South Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Wests Tigers and came in front of their biggest home crowd of the season in 30, 685.

Wests Tigers lost prop Keith Galloway with a hand injury on Tuesday night. Second-rower Todd Payten moves to prop with Liam Fulton coming off the bench to start in the back-row.

Junior Moors moves on the interchange bench.

The game started in dramatic fashion when Souths half-back Chris Sandow kicked the ball over the head of half-back Robert Lui to see the ball go dead to force a drop out.

Souths five-eighth John Sutton made a break on the second tackle before losing the ball five metres from the line.

Referee Steve Lyons called on the video referee Sean Hampstead to rule whether Englishman Gareth Ellis knocked the ball out of the hands of fellow Pommy Sam Burgess five metres before the line which saw centre Beau Champion place the ball down to score. It was ruled no try.

Wests Tigers had the chance to take a penalty goal attempt from in front of the posts in the seventh minute but elected to take a tap. From the tap, prop Bryce Gibbs was ruled to have lost the ball in the tackle just before the line.

Hampstead was called on in the ninth minute to rule whether Souths hooker Isaac Luke knocked the ball out of the hand of hooker Robbie Farah. Sandow picked the ball up and race 25 metres to score out wide. It was ruled no try.

Souths opened the scoring in the 12th minute when winger Nathan Merrit offloaded a pass to Burgess who found open space to offload back inside to Merrit to race away for a 70 metre try. Luke converted the try for a 6-0 lead.

Wests Tigers half-back Robert Lui showed his class and ability with the ball when he stepped off his left foot to beat prop Luke Stuart and full-back Rhys Wesser from 10 metres out to score behind the posts. Five-eighth Benji Marshall converted the try for a 6-6 scoreline after 21 minutes.

A loose pass by Souths on the half-way line was picked up by lock Ben Lowe who threw a dummy at Lui. The half-back fell for the dummy to allow Lowe to run into open space before offloading to second-rower David Taylor to race away to score out wide.

Luke converted the try to give Souths a 12-6 lead after 25 minutes.

Souths extended their lead when Sutton stood in a tackle by prop Andrew Fifita to offload for Sandow to race 12 metres to score out wide. Luke converted the try for an 18-6 lead after 31 minutes.

The score remained that way until half-time.

Second half
Souths went further ahead when centre Beau Champion went from dummy half and showed the ball to Burgess before crashing through the tackle of centre Chris Lawrence to score for a 22-6 lead. The try was not converted.

Hampstead was again called on to see if Champion had scored his second try off a Sandow bomb. Marshall attempted to catch the ball but it bounced and with Champion in support, he beat full-back Beau Ryan's desperate grab at it to score under the posts. The try was awarded 'benefit of the doubt' to give Souths a 28-6 lead after 46 minutes.

Merritt grabbed his second try in the 48th minute when a pass by Marshall to Lawrence saw the ball knocked forward by the centre. Sandow picked it up to offload to Merritt to dive over in the corner.Luke rubbed further salt into the wound when he converted the try from the sideline for a 34-6 lead.

Hampstead was called on again in the 58th minute to rule whether winger Daniel Fitzhenry had grounded the ball or fumbled it from a Farah grubber kick. It was ruled no try.

Prop Junior Moors had a try disallowed after referee Steve Lyons ruled a forward pass from Lui with 18 minutes remaining.

A minute later, Souths were in again when, on the last tackle, a crossfield kick by Sandow saw centre Colin Best leap above a bewildered Mitch Brown to score for a 38-6 lead. Luke converted the try for a 40-6 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

Hampstead was once again called on to see if Merritt had scored his third try after a loose pass saw Marshall knock the ball into the winger's leg. Merritt regathered the ball to score behind the posts for a 44-6 lead. The try was converted to give Souths a 46-6 lead after 71 minutes.

Souths made it 50-6 when Sandow offloaded to Taylor who popped a one handed pass for winger Fetuli Talanoa to score in the corner. Luke failed to convert the try with six minutes remaining.

Wests Tigers got their second try for the match when Lawrence scored in the 78th minute after swooping on a stray pass to race away to score in the corner for a 50-10 scoreline. The try was not converted.

Wests Tigers play Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday, May 21.


By Wayne Cousins
16/05/2010 10:17:07 PM

Wests Tigers Coach Tim Sheens and Captain Robbie Farah have apologised for the side’s very disappointing performance against South Sydney at the SCG today.

The Rabbitohs ran in nine tries to two to destroy the Wests Tigers 50-10 in round 10 of the Telstra Premiership. It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Wests Tigers.

“We owe our fans an apology for that today. The players and I have had a long discussion about it. This week (against Newcastle) can’t come quick enough as far as we are concerned,’’ Sheens said.

“It was our worst performance for some time. I can’t remember a performance like that for a long, long time. It is very disappointing.

“We started poorly in that we didn’t field the kick-off and it just got worse. They out muscled us in the middle and then our edges just fell to pieces. Everything we did went against us, every kick bounced the wrong way, every pass went wrong, so when those sort of things start happening, you know you are in for a tough day.

“It was a very poor performance and we are all putting our hands up, me included. Coaching staff, playing staff. We owe the club better than that.”

Farah said he couldn’t recall a worse performance.

“No, not in my time. As a playing group, we are pretty embarrassed,’’ a dejected Farah said.

“As captain, I like to apologise on behalf of the players to the fans and to the past players that have put this jersey on. It is pretty embarrassing.

“In saying that, we will stick together as a group and we will work hard. We will bounce back.”

Winger Lote Tuqiri said he couldn’t put his finger on why the side performed so poorly.

“We will have to go back and have a look at our own performances individually,’’ Tuqiri said.

“It is a tough time. I have been here with other teams before. We have just got to believe in what we are doing. We are a tough bunch of boys and we just need to stick together.

“The thing is we are 4-5 (four wins, five losses) so it is not panic stations. We have just got to be confident in our own ability which we are and go from there.

“I don’t want to be too negative. I don’t think you will see a worse performance from us this year so that’s probably a good thing.

“We have got the Friday night game and luckily it is not too far away.

“We have just got to take stock and train hard. Get back on the horse and believe in what we are doing. Today, we let our fans down and that’s not good enough.

“Souths played alright but we certainly didn’t play the way we wanted to. We just gave away the ball, didn’t complete our sets. We were all guilty, 1-17.

“It is pretty ordinary when you are walking off (the field) and kids are booing.”

Meanwhile, second-rower Liam Fulton will have scans on Monday to determine the extent of a right shoulder injury. Centre Blake Ayshford suffered a groin strain and may also miss the Newcastle match.


Sorry state of affairs: truth session moves Tigers to issue an apology
May 17, 2010

NOT long before publicly apologising to Wests Tigers fans, coach Tim Sheens and his players assembled in the SCG's home dressing room. There were no assistant coaches or chief executives, just the coach and the players, and a locked door.

What followed was a truth session. Sheens addressed them but then left the rest to the players, as the club's other staff assembled in a room outside. The players, including the injured ones, all spoke for 15 minutes together. ''What we said is kept in-house,'' Sheens said.

The Tigers had just leaked 50 points for the first time since 2004, and through all the lows of not making the finals since their premiership win in 2005, this was their worst performance.

''We're very disappointed,'' Sheens said. ''We owe our fans an apology for that. The players and I have just had a long discussion about it … [it was] our worst performance for some time, to be quite honest - I can't remember a performance like that for a long time. It's very disappointing.''

It was the Tigers' fourth straight defeat after having shown much promise by winning four of their first five matches this season.

''We started poorly - didn't field the kick-off from the start - and it just got worse,'' Sheens said. ''They outmuscled us in the middle, and then our edges just fell to pieces. Everything we did went against us, every kick bounced the wrong way, every pass went wrong - when those sorts of things start happening, you know you're in for a tough day.

''We're not going to offer any excuses. That was a very poor performance, and we're all putting our hands up, me included, the coaching staff, the playing staff. We owe the club better than that.

''I know there's been some distractions with me being away [on Kangaroos duty] and some of the boys playing rep footy, and there have been some issues with injury, but we're not here to offer any excuses. We played a heritage round. We were representing Balmain today and it was pretty poor.''

Tigers captain Robbie Farah said the players did the jersey a disservice. Asked if he could recall a worse performance, Farah said: ''Not in my time. As a playing group we're pretty embarrassed. As captain I'd like to apologise on behalf of the players; to the fans, to players in the past that have put this jersey on. It was pretty embarrassing. But in saying that, we'll stick together as a group and we'll work hard. It's still early.''

The performance was so bad, winger Lote Tuqiri admitted he was even booed by a pre-teen as he walked off. ''It's pretty ordinary. We've just got to take stock and … get back on the horse, believe in what we're doing,'' Tuqiri said. ''We let ourselves down, we let our fans down, and it's not good enough. I don't think you'll see a worse performance by us this year.''

It is also unlikely you will see a worse performance by Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall, whose game was littered with errors. Sheens refused to single him out, even if his mistakes were glaring. ''You can't ask your outside people to win you the game if you're not winning it in the middle, and we just didn't win it in the middle,'' he said.

And the coach refused to blame the club's injuries, which unfortunately will only grow, with Liam Fulton suffering a shoulder injury and Blake Ayshford a groin strain.

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