Five Takeaways From Round 9

The not-so-familiar setting of Suncorp Stadium was where we hosted the Cowboys, which sure had its moments of magic. 

Here are my Five Takeaways.

 

The Amazing Damien Cook

I'm officially dubbing it Damien Cook's best NRL game.

Particularly in the first quarter of the match, Cook was everywhere - putting the defence on notice, making breaks and setting up tries.

And when the side was on the back-foot somewhat in the second half, he came up and scored one himself. 

Damien Cook has been touted one of the best players in the competition over the last twelve months, and he sure backed up those claims with one of his best matches not only in the Cardinal and Myrtle, but in the NRL. 

Our crafty hooker racked up an incredible 51 tackles (game-high), made two linebreaks, assisted in two more, forced a drop-out with a well-weighted kick and laid on three try assists.

If there was one player who brought the magic to Magic Round, it was certainly The Amazing Damien Cook.  

 

Hang Ten

One thing that stood out to me this week was the height and hangtime the kicks had.

On multiple occasions - most notably in the first half - the high kicks that Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker employed seemed to be in the air forever, which meant the defensive line had much more time to pin the Cowboys in their half.

And it seemed to work all game, with the only attacking chances the Cowboys managed seemed to come from errors or penalties giving them a leg up, and the speed of the defensive line in the middle of the field and in the Cowboys' own end I thought was very good. 

Not to mention, it was great seeing Reyno putting in those deadly spiral bombs.  More of that, please. 

 

Holding On

No, this isn't a point about holding onto the lead, but more so the ball.

The Rabbitohs had a perfect completion rate up until the 26th minute, with their first error coming from Campbell Graham contesting a high ball - which in all fairness is usually a 50/50 call. 

And we seemed to continue holding onto the ball throughout the match, and while there was another dropped ball by Cameron Murray late in the match (personally I didn't think it was but the referee was closer than I was) it was one that came from an awkward ricochet of the ball - again, something that doesn't come from poor discipline.

The side finished the match with an impressive 26 from 32 completion rate - or 84%, which is exactly what you want from your team week in, week out - and although we could have performed better in parts, I thought our handling was top-notch. 

 

Inviting them back in 

One thing that wasn't really pleasing to see was the lapse in concentration at times from the boys.

Despite taking a comfortable 18-nil lead after a quarter of the match, the side let in two soft tries in the last ten minutes of the first half after some silly errors and penalties allowed the Cowboys back in.

And although we got away with the win in the end, it was probably a match we could have won by more. 

To their credit though, there were injuries to Kyle Turner and John Sutton, which meant that the bench was cut down to two in the final twenty minutes, but it was another chance to put together an 80-minute performance that went begging and felt more of a match filled with individual brilliance rather than a team effort. 

In saying that though, it was still a well-deserved two points.

 

Bring in the Centurions

All the talk might be around our spine players, but the forward pack and outside backs are sure doing their fair share of work too.

Every member of our starting forward pack made over 100 metres, with Thomas Burgess (167m), Sam Burgess (156m), Junior Tatola (115m) and Cameron Murray (113m) leading the way.

In the outside backs, Alex Johnston, Campbell Graham and Dane Gagai also crossed the century of metres, showing that they're willing to roll up their sleeves and get amongst it as well. 

Off the bench I thought George Burgess had his best outing of 2019, busting the line a number of times and racking up 90 metres in less than half an hour on the field, while John Sutton was ever-reliable with some trademark carries before going off. 

Stats only say so much, but it's a great indication of the work rate from the side if they're producing numbers like that. 

 

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