AFTER watching Dave Taylor do things on a football field that should not be possible for a man of his stature, Matt King offered the following appraisal.
"Dave Taylor comes up with some freaky things," King said. "I honestly think he will go down as the most unique forward the game has ever seen."
This was not just a game of two halves, but of two very different players. Taylor and Greg Inglis, in their own unique ways, obliterated North Queensland with their opening blitzkrieg.
With Origin just around the corner, it's the sort of thing that will be keeping Blues coach Ricky Stuart up at nights. Johnathan Thurston, their Kangaroos teammate just a week ago, learned the hard way that they were more fun to play with than against.
"They're very good players," Thurston said. "No doubt our start to the game gave them room to move and they made us pay for it."
Taylor, all 124kg and 188cm of him, crossed for a try and only desperate defence prevented him from scoring two more. He finished proceedings with 158 metres to his credit – one more than Inglis – as well as 33 tackles.
But it was those deft pick-ups and uncanny turns of pace which left his teammates, opponents and spectators stunned. "I've got the best seat in the house watching those two boys go to work," King said.
With Inglis having moved to fullback, the responsibility of getting quality ball to him falls predominantly to pivot John Sutton. He obliged by getting the Steeden into his hands early and often.
"When they get the ball, they are just such powerful runners, you have to be on your game to contain them," Sutton said. "They really ripped in tonight and played well for us, it was good. We're working hard on getting him as much ball as possible."
Coach Michael Maguire also acknowledged their contribution, but stressed his forward pack needed credit for putting them into good field position. "They get those sorts of things off the back of the team and the way they're working," he said. "They're quality players and do special things but they do that on the back of the team doing what they did."
Given the opening salvo – 20 points in as many minutes – the Rabbitohs should have won in a canter. Instead, the momentum swung back to the Cowboys and only some desperate defence at the death prevented an unlikely comeback. However, the head-start proved insurmountable, even with Thurston at his scheming best.
"I don't think we had the intensity that was up to NRL standard early," Cowboys coach Neil Henry said.
Despite being without prop Roy Asotasi and the Burgess brothers, the Rabbitohs – for the most part – contained a mammoth Cowboys pack. And another bonus was the return of Nathan Merritt, who got through his NRL return unscathed.
"Obviously we've missed Merro. He can find some special plays and he did that today," Maguire said.
"He came up with a couple of intercepts and really stopped a good flow of attack from the Cowboys. It's great having him out there . . . a player roaming around, he's always dangerous there."
Cowboys back-rower and Blues hopeful Tariq Sims was placed on report for a late hit on Sutton, who was attempting to get a kick away.
The Cowboys felt there was little in the incident and were upset that a similar tackle by King on Thurston went unpunished.
SOUTH SYDNEY 20 (G Inglis I Luke D Taylor tries A Reynolds 4 goals) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 16 (A Graham 2 J Segeyaro tries J Thurston 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Steve Lyons, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 12,213.