Alrighty folks, managed to get a leave pass from home for the night and ended up at Cronulla for tonight’s game.
I’ll give a general rundown on the players and the match for those who are interested…
Tedesco - Very safe at the back, had a couple of good runs and showed excellent footwork. Really liking the way he is developing and one of our most dangerous players.
Koroibete - Defensively he still got caught out a couple of times but was well covered by Lulia. Got through quite a lot of work in attack though and bent the line everytime he hit it. His length of the field try was a cracker, the Sharks players near him gave the ghost up early on as they knew the result. Not sure he’ll displace Nofo and I wouldn’t have him ahead of Richards at this stage.
Lulia - Didn’t have a whole lot to do out there tonight, but he was pretty good in defence and only ran the ball a couple of times from what I could see, scoring on one occasion. I prefer Simona who looks a far more likely threat in attack, but Lulia is certainly up to FG.
Lawrence - Spoke to Rowdy on the way into the ground and he looked leaner than last year and he looked a bit sharper on the field tonight IMO. Did not look hampered by injury at all and was solid. Hoping he’ll get back to something near his best this year. Got Fifita with one great up and under tackle too.
Richards - Solid, dependable, reliable and able to do things with a football not many others can. Very safe at the back and didn’t put a foot wrong tonight. Goalkicking was excellent. Looks to be a good pickup for sure.
Anasta - Didn’t set the world on fire, having said that he wasn’t bad either and just seemed to steer the ship around when he had to. Got a breather in the second half when Austin came on.
Brooks - First run was a 90 metre intercept and he’s got some toe. Defensively he looked ok defending between Rowdy and big Pat and he took more control in the second half with Farah and Anasta off the field. As long as our forwards do their job I am quietly confident Brooks will do his.
Woods - Solid and went forward with each carry. No issues defensively. Nothing more to add really.
Farah - Steered the ship well and didn’t overplay his hand. Overall I thought it was a well tempered performance. Very busy in defence as usual.
Taupau - Looked ok but doesn’t have the same knack form making metres in the tackle like Woods does. He does hit the line pretty hard though and should be good coming off the bench once Sauce is back.
Thompson - A few of us have been critical of him recently, myself included but I thought he was pretty good tonight and definitely keen to hold down the right side edge backrower position. Hit hard in defence and looked to get involved in attack which was good to see. At this stage I see no reason why he won’t be in the starting 17.
Patterson - Again, he looked alright, has a good offload and defends well, he has good reach and was effective in wrapping the ball up. Should do the job well while Sirro mends.
Blair - Considering I own a high powered rifle I need to be careful what I say here. We were on the wrong end of the penalty count tonight and I counted Blair to be responsible for giving away at least 4 first half penalties before he was benched. Aside from the obvious niggle I thought he was ok up the middle in so far he manages to get very quick play the balls which helps Farah. I’d like to see Sue put some pressure on him though.
Austin - Played the second half and wasn’t bad, quicker than Anasta and it shows in his attack when he runs towards the line. Defensively he’s not as good as Anasta, but I think he offers more in terms of backline plays. Could be our bench utility if Potter goes with Braith at 6 for round 1.
BMM - Got about 25 minutes in the second half and went ok, pushed forward well in attack and I couldn’t see any obvious issues but he was on the far side of the field to where I was watching.
Buchanan - Looks to have put on some size from last year although his leg speed still isn’t great. Defensively he was good though but at this stage I can only find room for him on the bench at best at this stage.
Gavet - Like the look of this bloke on the field, plays full throttle and I think he will be there for round 1. Hits hard in attack and defence and I’d be inclined to use him as a backrower rather than front row. I think he’ll prove a handful on the edges.
Other players who also got a run (that I could tell):
Ava - He seemed to go better off the bench in FG than he did in State Cup. Just seemed to bend the line more.
Andy Fiagatusa - Not up to FG yet and got absolutely poleaxed by Wade Graham I think. That wild hair of his is a massive target.
Kyle Lovett - Played right edge backrow. Bigger than last year but should develop well in State Cup.
Kurtis Rowe - Replaced Tedesco in the second half.
Setefano (the NYC bloke who came back to the club from a mormon mission). I thought he went ok in State Cup but FG is probably a bit beyond him at this stage. I hope to see him improve further though because he has a pretty powerful build, looks to be close to 100kg and reasonably tall. I think he has some potential but with a couple of years out of the game, he’ll need time to adjust.
Luani - Replaced Farah and went ok, an able substitute in the absence of Halatau.
There may have been one or two others but I couldn’t recognise them.
General points to note:
Across the park we look to be a reasonable size, we certainly weren’t overpowered by the Sharks and Fifita was the only bloke who really did us damage whenever he managed to get one on one with someone to use his fend.
Discipline was an issue and this will need to be fixed heading into round 1.
We played a lot more direct tonight, relying on simple, straight hard running. Koro and Richards got us off to good starts out of dummyhalf and we were able to crack out 50 metres in attack comfortably on most occasions, and sometimes more if we had any second phase play. It was different not noticing Benji out there but I think our overall structure has improved with less off the cuff play and a more direct approach being adopted.
Overall it was a solid hit out, no injuries from what I could tell and the Sharks only ran in a couple of late tries as more than half of the main squad grabbed an early shower.
Also saw Sirro on crutches before the game, he was in good spirits although had a ton of bandaging around his foot. Reckons the surgery went well and he’s healing well (who am I to argue?)
With the likes of Galloway, Fulton and Simona all likely available for round 1, I’m confident we’ll give a good account of ourselves.