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Same Souths, says Knights coach Wayne Bennett; Rabbitohs coach begs to differ

Rabbit romp: Kirisome Auva'a scores one of his two tries.

Rabbit romp: Kirisome Auva'a scores one of his two tries. Photo: Getty Images

Wayne Bennett says South Sydney aren’t doing anything new and it’s “debatable” if their modus operandi can break a 43-year premiership drought; rival Michael Maguire responded by detailing how the Rabbitohs have evolved.

Souths’ quest to play controlled football with just enough flair to outpoint any opposition appeared to take a step to the good when they ran up 32 points before making their first error in their 50-10 win at Cairns’ Barlow Park.

The lingering question for the bunnies is whether they can reach the  “next level” required to  win their first premiership since 1971; on Friday against Manly we may get closer to an answer.

Tough going: Jake Mamo is wrapped up by the Souths defence.

Tough going: Jake Mamo is wrapped up by the Souths defence. Photo: Getty Images

“Souths aren’t going to change,” said Bennett, whose only joy came from two tries in a three-minute period during the second half.

“There wasn’t one of us in that changeroom who didn’t know at any stage what they were going to throw at us and how they were going to do it.

“That’s their challenge. They do it every week the same way. If a team’s good enough to stand up to it, it puts them under pressure.  We couldn’t stand up to them  ... another day we might have.

Tough going: Jake Mamo is wrapped up by the Souths defence.

Tough going: Jake Mamo is wrapped up by the Souths defence. Photo: Getty Images

“They play similar to the Roosters. We handled the Roosters OK last week – they run hard, they tackle in numbers and they’ll keep doing it for the full 80 minutes.”

Asked if that would be enough to win the competition, the Knights’ master coach answered: “Well, it didn’t work for them last year in the end – it’s debatable. They were good today. That’s all you can take. The other teams have got to stop that. As I said, there’s not a coach in the NRL who doesn’t know how they’re going to play.

“If no one can stop them, they can certainly win the premiership. They’ve got enough strike-power and ability in that team. It’s a pretty hardened footy team – there’s a fair bit of confidence.”

Souths players mob Alex Johnston after scoring a try - the rookie ended the match with a hat trick.

Souths players mob Alex Johnston after scoring a try - the rookie ended the match with a hat trick. Photo: Getty Images

But the Rabbits’ captain, Greg Inglis, insisted the team was “evolving” and when told of Bennett’s comments, Maguire was willing to outline how, telling Triple M: “To have the luxury now of Dylan Walker on an edge and Alex Johnson on an edge, it’s allowing us to go a bit sideways sometimes when we need to ... and  then come back through the middle. Everyone’s got an opinion, but we’re very satisfied with our plan.”

South Sydney took 13 minutes to post their first try, and Kirisome Auva’a got their 10th, and his second with five to go in front of 11,000 fans on an unpredictable and humid Cairns afternoon.

Winger Alex Johnston – the 19-year-old who once played Inglis in a television commercial – has scored 14 tries in 10 matches. “Last year, looking towards this year, I would not have dreamed I’d even be in first grade,” Johnston said.

Inglis commented: “I think I first met him in 2008 – we did the NRL ad together. He played myself and in a couple of years he’s running outside me. It’s pleasing to see a young kid like that stick at it and make his dream come true.

“Those kids, I just sit back and admire. What’s really good about them is their feet are still grounded and they’ll go a long way.’’

There were the obligatory video refereeing controversies despite the margin; significant doubt over whether Knight Adam Clydesdale and Rabbit Tom Burgess grounded the ball cleanly.

“It’s always been contentious, it’ll always be a problem,” said Bennett. “You see enough of them, you get yourself confused about what is a try and what isn’t a try.

“There’s no doubt we need the video ref. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s just a fact of life.”

The Rabbitohs scored a freakish 33rd minute try when Chris McQueen booted a loose ball on the half-volley straight into the waiting hands of centre Dylan Walker.

Newcastle skipper Kurt Gidley concluded: “They blew us off the path. Defensively, we were way off the pace. I thought they were good. I thought  we were really bad.”

13 comments so far

  • These comments coming from the SUPER COACH whose team is in 14th position and are
    close to getting the wooden spoon. While at Brisbane he had a 1 city team with the whole QLD
    cup comp to chose from, as for the dragons the were on the verge of winning when he arrived,
    now at Newcastle where he has average players he can't make the top 8 and he has the gall to souths can't win the GF. Super coach, me thinks NOT!!!.

    Commenter
    Tezza Rabbit
    Location
    Caringbah
    Date and time
    August 03, 2014, 9:49PM
    • Is Wayne basically saying that Souths are extremely predictable, and every coach in the NRL knows exactly how they are going to play, and on a better day his team the Knights could stand up to that predictability, but just not today, but that they could stand up to it last week. And if no one can stop Souths in their predictable play, then they could possibly win the premiership...genius. Lets keep it simple, the Knights beat the Roosters last week after their embarrassing effort the week before in the Rise for Alex round, they obviously cannot back up week on week with that level of intensity and their position on the table shows it, and accordingly they got a towelling by a far better NRL team.

      Commenter
      Doug
      Date and time
      August 04, 2014, 3:19AM
      • Lets face facts-Bennett is a bad jealous loser!

        Commenter
        Jacko
        Location
        Warriorville
        Date and time
        August 04, 2014, 8:26AM
        • benett has lost the plot, if he doesent have a team full of Australian reps he he shows his true colours, not much chop, brisbane are doomed now until he retires with all their money, for a bloke that wont speak to the media he seems to get his bitter words out there when he wants.should retire now

          Commenter
          watto
          Location
          brisbane
          Date and time
          August 04, 2014, 8:30AM
          • Dear Wayne - if Souths have an obvious game plan, why is it that Newcastle has not beaten Souths in the 3 years you have coached them?.....maybe you are not as good as you think you are without the unlimited salary cap you had at the Broncos & the great team that was already there @ St George when you temporariliy moved in.

            Commenter
            Real Istic
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            August 04, 2014, 9:06AM
            • Does Bennett think any team is doing things differently in the NRL? Too many teams playing similar styles of footy. In defence, if you can't wrestle, find a way to get three players in the tackle to slow down the ruck. In attack, four hit ups then run some decoy runners/obstructions till you find a hole or put a cross field chip kick in. And league fans used to complain about Union being boring. The Warriors, Tigers and Eels are capable of playing entertaining, open, ad-lib, broken play football but they are the exception to the rule.

              Commenter
              Bill Blazejowski
              Location
              Blazeland
              Date and time
              August 04, 2014, 9:19AM
              • You've touched the heart of the problem. Just about all the NRL teams do things the same way. Saw somebody take a kick rather than a tap from the 20 metre mark and the look on the opposition faces was one of disbelief like they had broken an unwritten law that you can't use more than 10% of the field at any given time.

                Bennett may have to eat his words given that Souths are bringing through some very competent young men in Johnston, Walker and Auva'a out wide. Their attack is only going to get better and more difficult to predict. My only gripe with Madge is he should've gotten rid of Isaac Luke for Nathan Peats (being a Parra supporter am very happy to claim him) to free up some cash and bid for a big playmaker like a Thurston, Widdop or even Marshall to give their attack some unpredictability and flair.

                Problem is your junior league "supercoaches" all run these boring second man plays now and the structure kills any enjoyable free flowing footy. Given that NRL coaches are about as disposable as a prawns head it would take a gutsy coach to try and be innovative to change the trend. Would love it this finals series for a kicking fullback to attempt a 40/20 from a kick return or a punt down the field to try and recover to score a try or just something away from the vanilla plays trotted out by most teams. The warriors were clever in their use of the contested scrum but I guess the NRL gave the ceasefire on that one. Wouldn't want to change the game would we.

                Commenter
                El Seano
                Date and time
                August 04, 2014, 6:01PM
            • Got to agree with Super Coach Bennett. Souths are incredibly predictable (& boring). Every coach and player in the league knows exactly how they'll play. Surprised that they've even won one game this year.

              Commenter
              Sir Francis
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              August 04, 2014, 10:11AM
              • Doesn't say much for Wayne's style of coaching if a "predictable" side can smash his side by such a big margin.Sounds a tad like sour grapes to me.Time to give the young coaches a go old fella.

                Commenter
                MFS
                Location
                Sydney
                Date and time
                August 04, 2014, 1:19PM
                • Sorry Wayne, but if Souths were so predictable, why couldn't your team score more than 10 points against them ...................... Sir Francis, let me guess you have to be either a Manly, St George or Rooster supporter

                  Commenter
                  Chrissie
                  Location
                  Sydney
                  Date and time
                  August 04, 2014, 2:00PM

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                  NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
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