Finals footy is in full swing. Now let's get up to date with all the big talking points from that fast first forty.
You Love to See it
Damien Cook burning tired forwards through the middle of the park, offloading to Cameron Murray to score under the sticks! It’s what “Cookie” is known for, yet for much of 2020 he’s had to focus on steering the big men around the park and creating time for his halves and backline. Well maybe all that was needed for Cookie to turn the after burners on was a bit of sunshine, with the Knights forwards tiring late in the first forty & the Rabbitohs Hooker taking full advantage to give his side the lead heading into the break.
The Young 1’s
It’s a game that’s fast turning into the battle of the fullbacks. Kalyn the creator, and Corey Allan the finisher. It was Ponga who set up the first try for Newcastle and continues to pose a threat a one of the their key playmakers. Allan on the other hand showed his ability to slice through the line and open the account for South Sydney. Rivals on the field but mates off it, the two Queensland products know each other well, first facing off in the under 14’s, and are good mates to this day…
Walker puts Allan over for Rabbitohs' first
Climbing the Mountain
It wasn’t the start the the Rabbitohs envisaged in their first daytime football in an age, with the boys struggling to put any pressure on Knights at all in the first 15 minutes. In the opening ten minutes the Rabbitohs committed 3 errors in 4 sets including a successful captains challenge from the Knights and a kick out on the full from Adam Reynolds. The Knights on the other hand completed at 100% in the same period, and some poor discipline to boot saw Knights go out to a 14-0 lead in 12 minutes. Interestingly, slow starts from the victors have been a theme so far this finals series, with all eventual winners having to overcome an early deficit in the three games leading into this match. The Rabbitohs had a hill to climb after 10 minutes, but worked hard to turn the momentum of the game & levelled the scoreboard with 16 minutes to play in the first forty.
Walker crosses for himself
In Finals footy going up by six points is often the difference between staying alive and an early holiday, and the story of the two men tasked with the job has been extremely different throughout 2020. Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga has had some well documented struggles kicking from out wide, while Rabbitohs sharpshooter Adam Reynolds has been almost automatic, especially from the left touch line. 2/2 out wide. To start the match, the young Knights superstar has risen to the occasion, converting both of his sides from the sideline & slotting a penalty from just wide of the sticks - while Reynolds is hitting at 50% missing his first & third attempts, both from the left touchline facing into the sun, something he hasn’t had to deal with very often lately!
Battle of Attrition
29-degree heat, only two penalties, (both in Newcastle’s favour), one set restart (again in Newcastle’s favour) two successful Captain’s Challenges (for Newcastle)... yet at the end of half time, we find ourselves six points in front. For most of the season, completions have been the key to success for the men in red and green, but so far this afternoon they have only managed to finish 12 of 18 sets. If the Rabbitohs turn that stat around, watch for the rest of these figures to even out, & keep an eye on the scoreboard.