Just finished watching the replay so here's my full report,
We might have got the result in great fashion but there's no denying that our attack was far from on last night. A few really good backline moves and a few opportunities throughout the game but that was about it. Apart from that, it looked pretty clunky. I'm not really sure why either. Maybe it was the players missing? Maybe Keaon not being on an edge, maybe Host out of sync at the moment on the left? I don't know. But there's no denying it didn't look crisp for much of the night. That's probably the biggest work on out of this game for me, we have one of the best attacking teams in the comp when we get it right, just got to get it right.
Once again too, we were plagued by errors at times. Our completion rate over all was 75%, which still isn't good enough, but I think there was one stage where it was as low as 60% and this really allowed Manly to not only get into the game, but get on top. Thankfully, we cleaned it up and the rest is history. However, it's still not good enough, it's becoming a big issue. We're lucky we played with such guts and determination, or it would have been a case of errors costing us a game at all.
In terms of go-forward, I do have to give a massive wrap to the whole side but the forwards especially. We were depleted and somewhat outgunned, but the middle held their own and we had no real problems making meters for the most part. Great stuff.
The most pleasing part of the night for me. Coming into this game, Manly have been one of the hottest attacking sides in the comp but you wouldn't know it watching that game. We defended incredibly well. Manly had their fair share of ball down our end, plenty of opportunities but we kept turning them away and turning them away. Forced them into plenty of errors. They actually really struggled to break through our line at all. It just looked like nearly every play they put on, we had it covered. Of course, there was a few close calls but our scramble was really good. We handled their big threats in Trbojevic and DCE really well.
In the end, we only conceded 12 points and they were off a kick and an intercept. I'll cop that and I'm pretty happy with that against a top four contender. What's more, we kept them scoreless in the second stanza.
Just really proud of our defence. It's come a long way. The lads are really turning up for eachother and putting in.
Player by Player
L.Mitchell: Very, very quiet for the first 60 minutes or so, and I mean VERY quiet. He was barely in the game at all. Only three runs in the first half which is very poor. However, he did really pick it up in the last quarter of the game where he was so involved in everything we did. It was like he finally pulled the trigger and just went for it. Some huge, scary carries up the middle to get out of trouble and he was chiming in on the backline plays really well at that stage. Missed his field goal attempt but did end up finishing with 155 meters from 15 runs so that's not bad. However, having a 'not bad' night is just not good enough for Trell. He's our main superstar so should be showing it, not hiding for most of the game. I've been defending him so far, but it is starting to really frustrate me. We need more.
Johnston: A pretty solid night on both sides of the ball. Strong carries and kick returns to make 113 meters, very safe under the high ball as he defused a lot, and while he did have limited opportunities down the left, he did what he could with what he had when he got his chances. Didn't put a foot wrong in defence. Well done AJ.
Tass: I was pretty damn impressed with Tass last night. In a really tight game, he did more than his bit to get us the win. Firstly, his carries out of our own end, they were simply outstanding and his work rate was huge. This is evidenced in the stats as he made a whopping 207 meters of 21 runs! That's incredible. Most of them were just gool old-fashion hit ups too. been so impressed with this area of his game and last night was no different. What's more, he looked pretty dangerous in attack. Got a lot of good ball and was asking some questions but it never really came to anything. The one criticism I do have of him right now is that he's not very good at promoting the ball and setting up AJ. This is all part of his development though. Very impressed with his defence, this area of his game was exceptional. Marking Koula and Olakau'atu is a huge task but he handled it well, very well, including a try saver on Koula in the second half. Olakau'atu did outleap him to score but to be fair, Tassy gave it a go. Well played lad!
Graham: Was probably more than just 'good' but that's probably his worst game of the year so far in my opinion. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he had a poor game at all, just saying that he's been going so well this year and I don't think he quite hit those heights in Round 4. There's no doubt he didn't look as 'on' defensively as he normally does. Brad Parker got around him many times with his footwork which caused Stretch a few problems. He came up with some poor reads a couple of times that lead to line breaks or half breaks. Thankfully, none of this cost us. So it wasn't his finest defensive performance that we have come to expect. I'm probably being very knit-picky and might be overly critical but we need to be honest about this stuff when we're chasing a Premiership. Stretch will know it and will be better next week. Aside from that, he was great with the ball as always. Absolutely loving his carries out of our end, he was huge there once again.
Thompson: Little bit of a quiet game for Izaac he just went about his business and did his job. Nothing overly special, nothing bad, he just did his job. Took his hit ups, made his tackles, caught the bombs he had to, made no errors. Guess that's all you can really ask.
Walker: We've been waiting four weeks for Cody to wake up a bit and really stamp his authority on a game and it finally happened last night!! He was our man of the match. Looked much more focused and relaxed which is when he's at his best. Super dangerous whenever he touched the ball and did his bit to create what he could. Scored both our tries too. The first was just Cody personified. The ultimate competitor, never gave up on the play when many would have. Just kept chasing it and chasing it and was rewarded with a miraculous try! Literally centimeters inside the line. Incredible try!! It was Cody again at his best later in the game for his second try. A great backline shift, he gets involved, gets the ball and he's so deceptive that that's all it took for the defence to hesitate and he was gone. Parker couldn't shut it down in time and he crashed over. Great play Cody. Very strong defensively too. What a game and I hope this is the game that really gets him going in 2023.
Ilias: Not to be outdone by his halves partner, I thought Lachy had a very solid game too. His kicking game was pretty good, apart from one he kicked dead. Even went for a 40/20 at one stage. Looked good attacking the line and had a hand in pretty much everything good we did in attack. Played a great role in Cody's second try, he set Cody up in a great position. Without the ball, he was just as good as he always is. Came up with some huge stops! Then, his moment. What a moment it was in golden point!!! Steps up confidently and absolutely nails the field goal to win us the game. Ice in his veins. Couldn't be happier for him as it's a huge career moment, the first field goal of his career and the first time he's really 'won' us a game.