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Qualifying Final - Panthers vs Rabbitohs: Saturday 11th September 7:50pm @Queensland Country Bank Stadium

callmack1

Moderator
Staff member
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8,909
Rookie at the back but Bunnies ready for Cleary's boot this time: https://www.nrl.com/news/2021/09/09/rookie-at-the-back-but-bunnies-ready-for-clearys-boot-this-time/

Cleary to inflict ‘death by 1000 cuts’ as big ‘red flag’ emerges - Cronk’s Finals breakdown: https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...s/news-story/e4e282e3a657ff7c5d53d30904ebeae7

South Sydney captain Adam Reynolds says young fullback Blake Taaffe can handle Finals: https://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/n...s/news-story/ffbde949af4209aaa14ae6c6b4969587

Also, from the Sydney Mornig Herald,

Immortal Kombat

Andrew Johns

The finals are finally here. It’s the best time of the year, when champion players and teams rise to the top. Let’s run an eye over the eight teams left standing.

MELBOURNE STORM

Without question, the Storm will be there grand final day. Big-game club, been there before, their defence is almost impossible to break down, especially on a dewy night game with a slippery ball, and their attack has evolved as the season’s gone on.

For their star player, Cameron Munster, the bigger the stage the better he goes. He’s been quiet since State of Origin — not a good sign for the other teams.

PENRITH PANTHERS

The team to beat. They have such a well-balanced side that knows who they are because a big chunk of those players has come through the system together.

They complement each other, especially Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai in the halves, as do Isaah Yeo with the other middle forwards. They also have a huge X-factor in Tevita Pangai jnr, who they secured mid-season from the Broncos. He’s a massive pick-up .

As for Cleary, he has all the attributes of a champion No.7: control, presence, and a superb kicking game.

Ivan Cleary’s side will have learned so much from last year and their grand final loss to Melbourne. They’re my premiers at this point.

SOUTH SYDNEY

What a shame there’s no Latrell Mitchell. He’s so important to their attack. Adam Reynolds jabs away. So does Cody Walker. But Mitchell delivers the knockout punch, especially on that left side. When they all combine it’s magical to watch, but they’re missing their most important player.

They’ll compete hard in games but will miss that freakish play that Mitchell can provide. Think back to Origin II when he stripped the ball from Dane Gagai or pounced to intercept and run 90 metres to score. When something needs to happen, Mitchell does it.

Their player to watch is hooker Damien Cook. Souths need to tweak their attack and play more out of dummy half to bring him into the game. His speed around the ruck can worry teams, as we know, but Walker and Reynolds need to keep pushing up in support around the ball. They’re likely to meet the Roosters in the second week of the finals because I can’t see them beating Penrith in week one.

MANLY SEA EAGLES

The dark horses, mostly because of Tommy Trbojevic. I have never seen anyone like him. Manly play a brand of footy that’s hard to stop: plenty of ball movement, offloads , and quick, slick passing.

Last week, against the Cowboys, they used some trick shots around the ruck in the middle of the field , which freed up Turbo.

They have an underrated forward pack with plenty of skill and footwork. Haumole Olakau’atu has come along in leaps and bounds on that right side. And no words can describe how good Turbo has been. His football intelligence blows me away: he knows when to pass, run, and where to put himself into play.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

This year has been Trent Robinson’s greatest coaching feat: the Roosters shouldn’t be in the top eight with the injuries they’ve had. I just worry how much is left in the tank.

Captain James Tedesco has carried this team. We know he’s a superstar but this year, under these circumstances, we’ve seen the competitive monster in him come out.

The Roosters’ player to watch is Victor Radley. He adds so much to their attack. He owns the middle of the field and links both sides to his halves, which gets them to an edge quickly.

He’s the best ball-playing forward in the game. The Roosters are a 12-point better team when Radley is on the field .

PARRAMATTA EELS

The Eels are the one team outside the four that can win it if things go their way. The victory over the Storm two weeks ago will give them plenty of confidence . They won that game through emotion and effort. When they’re breaking outside their structure in attack, they look at their best. Halfback Mitchell Moses’ kicking game must be an A-plus for them to win.

Prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard is also back, so they will almost be full strength. But the most important player is prop Junior Paulo. His late footwork at the line and his late offload can be lethal. Watch him on the righthand side of the ruck when fullback Clint Gutherson comes late onto that short pass.

Paulo is the real leader in the pack. They need him firing to be any chance.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

I’ll state the obvious: the Knights need to improve their attack – and by a long way. They need to manufacture sets where they can get the ball to centre Bradman Best one-on-one , something I’m sick of saying.

They rely too much on set plays. With the quicker ruck, they need to get over the advantage line with their halves on the advantage line when they get the ball from their forwards

— not behind it as they are now.

Their main man is Kalyn Ponga, who needs to produce a faultless performance each week if they’re to worry the top teams. They play the Eels on Sunday, which is a day game in Townsville, so the surface will be fast. To win this game, Newcastle need to score 24 points. But can they?

GOLD COAST TITANS

The Forrest Gump of the competition. Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. I love the way the Titans forwards play. A lot of pre-line passing, particularly from Jarrod Wallace, who’s not afraid to pass from a kick-off . I like the way he’s prepared to move the ball.

Prop Moeaki Fotuaika is a superb player. If the game gets any quicker, he’s going to excel. They also have the unpredictability of Jayden Campbell; another Indigenous player who’s got the skill you cannot coach.

It’s taken all season, but they’ve found their best halves combination in Jamal Fogarty and Tyrone Peachey.

The Titans’ attack can be so dangerous. They have the attitude that they’re going to score more points than you. They back their attack, not their defence. I like David Fifita coming off the bench. We all know the wrecking ball that he is. The Titans should cut up some vision of Gorden Tallis at his best and show him.

I don’t know if the Titans can beat the Roosters, but this game will be much closer than people think. If there’s an upset this weekend, this could be it.
 

Rabbits20

Immortal
Messages
38,601

Wayne Bennett has hit out at suggestions Souths can’t win the premiership without Latrell Mitchell and will dust off his Broncos and Queensland Origin playbooks in a bid to lead the Rabbitohs to grand-final glory.
As he prepares for a remarkable 30th finals campaign, the NRL super coach outlined his blueprint to clinch an eighth premiership with a South Sydney side given no hope of title success in the absence of suspended superstar Mitchell.

Despite finishing third, just one win behind minor premiers Melbourne, the Rabbitohs are rank outsiders with bookmakers to upset the Panthers in Saturday night’s qualifying final in Townsville.

But a defiant Bennett says he can defy the premiership odds by replicating the coaching magic that saw him steer the Broncos and Queensland to silverware despite having lost marquee players in the most pressurised games of his career.

Bennett coached the Maroons to the biggest series boilover in Origin history last year, blooding 14 rookies in a triumph that has convinced the master mentor he can steer Souths to the holy grail without his brilliant fullback.

“I believe we can get the job done with Latrell,” he said.

“I don’t build individuals. I have been building teams my whole coaching career. Teams win. Individuals don’t. A champion team will always beat a team of champions.

“That has always been my mantra since I started coaching.

“We went into last year’s State of Origin series and everyone told me Queensland couldn’t win. We had a stack of big names pull out. I blooded 14 debutants. But we came together as a team and that’s the key to it, that’s what I do.

“Losing Latrell ... as much as we will miss him, the bottom line is he is one part of the team.”

In his final month as Souths coach, Bennett is under mounting pressure to deliver another premiership. The 71-year-old has seven titles on his glittering resume, but accepts it has been almost 11 years — or 3995 days — since his most recent premiership with the Dragons in 2010.

The loss of Mitchell is a seismic blow to Souths’ playmaking spine, but Bennett says he has previously conquered individual setbacks and led his teams to the NRL premiership summit.

“More than once, I’ve had to overcome losing important players to win premierships,” he said.

“I remember at the Broncos, I lost big names all the time and we won premierships.

“In 1993, I lost Steve Renouf to a broken jaw and Terry Matterson in the finals and we got them back for the grand final and won it.

“We won in 2000 after Allan Langer retired (in 1999).

“I lost Shane Webcke with a broken arm for a month just before the finals in 2000 and he came back just in time to win the grand final.


I’ve rarely coached a season where a big-name player isn’t missing at some point.

“Latrell is a wonderful player, but we still have three big players in our spine in Cody (Walker), Damien (Cook) and Adam (Reynolds).”

Souths skipper Reynolds believes Bennett‘s composure and big-game wisdom shapes as an X-factor as the Rabbitohs plot a Panthers boilover this week on their way to a 22nd premiership.

“It is important that we lean on Wayne for his experience,” he said.

“He has been coaching for a long time and obviously knows how to get up for this time of year.

“We are always facing new challenges and with his experience and calmness it always gives you a sense of belief that you can do it.”

Souths have lost twice to Penrith this year, including a 56-12 belting in round 11, but Bennett says their Dubbo debacle means nothing.


You can’t have too many off days in this business and we can’t have an off-day like that again,” he said.

“The pressure is coming on now. We’re in the toughest period of the season, so let’s see what the guys bring.

“It’s why you play this game, to get to these moments and these places.

“You can be more disappointed at this time of the year, but you can’t have any regrets. That’s the bottom line.

“There is not many more levels for the top teams to go up. We are all playing at a pretty high standard now, so it’s all on the day at this time of the year.

“Talk is cheap. It’s the action that makes the difference, so let’s see what we come up with over the next few weeks.”
 

callmack1

Moderator
Staff member
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8,909
I don't agree with the 'Taaffe shouldn't/won't be fullback' talk.

Look, I may be wrong but all the facts point to him playing there for this Qualifying Final. He's been wearing the red shirt at training which means he's in the starting side and I can't see him playing centre, wing or displacing Cody at 5/8 for a Finals game can you? So in my view, he's certainly fullback this weekend.

And why shouldn't he be? The kid looks all class to me and has proven himself in the games he's played this year. He's done everything he possibly can to earn that spot and is the next best in line behind Trell. Yes, Latrell is a huge, huge loss but why can't Taaffe step up? The media and a lot of people around the forums don't think he can.

I may be wrong and this could all prove too much for him, it could all turn into a fail. I'm aware of that. But who's to say Taaffey isn't going to play really well and/or absolutely kill it? You just don't know. It is unknown and in a Season where we're chasing a Premiership, I'd rather go with the unknown. It's a big risk but the potential reward is huge! You're never going to know if you never try.

So let's just back the kid!! Let's get right behind him and support him with everything we've got! he can do it!!!
 

Rabbits20

Immortal
Messages
38,601
Try Assists

Walker: 33
Reynolds: 6

Luai: 18
Cleary: 19

Line Break Assists

Walker: 43
Reynolds: 9

Luai: 21
Cleary: 16


So Luai and Cleary close re assists.

If they shut Cody down we could be in strife.
 

Steenson123

Juniors
Messages
57
I'm not sure about this Taafe isn't ready talk. Sometimes you've got to roll the dice, if it doesn't come off we will still be playing finals and he will have gained valuable experience.
Si but the problem is this. If young Taaffe has a Barry Crocker, and let's be realistic here he will be facing a powerful albeit virgin squad armed with lethal punting, should that happen what about his psyche? Will he ever recover if the score ends like 44-6? That's not going to enhance Taaffe's immediate future. He will be chastised and ridiculed and where does that leave the squad going forward? Playoff football is all about pressure and physicality. Bennett has several decent options and that must focus on putting size in that backline. I simply cannot see the relatively smaller Taaffe handling the pressure that is coming his way. I don't feel it. At various stages he struggled against two dud squads in NQ and St Steelers and thus I conclude he is not ready for this. Recall the importance of this: lose here and its a Bronze Medal again for 4 consecutive seasons. That's extremely frustrating given the potency of our squad and it may terminally dent this squad's confidence to win something.
 

Steenson123

Juniors
Messages
57
I don't agree with the 'Taaffe shouldn't/won't be fullback' talk.

Look, I may be wrong but all the facts point to him playing there for this Qualifying Final. He's been wearing the red shirt at training which means he's in the starting side and I can't see him playing centre, wing or displacing Cody at 5/8 for a Finals game can you? So in my view, he's certainly fullback this weekend.

And why shouldn't he be? The kid looks all class to me and has proven himself in the games he's played this year. He's done everything he possibly can to earn that spot and is the next best in line behind Trell. Yes, Latrell is a huge, huge loss but why can't Taaffe step up? The media and a lot of people around the forums don't think he can.

I may be wrong and this could all prove too much for him, it could all turn into a fail. I'm aware of that. But who's to say Taaffey isn't going to play really well and/or absolutely kill it? You just don't know. It is unknown and in a Season where we're chasing a Premiership, I'd rather go with the unknown. It's a big risk but the potential reward is huge! You're never going to know if you never try.

So let's just back the kid!! Let's get right behind him and support him with everything we've got! he can do it!!!
Tough words Mack however did young Taaffe really inspire all this confidence in you when he played against NQ and St Steelers tow no hopers? He made errors in both, and despite his pace and aggressive running I just do not have confidence that the guy has adequate experience or ability for this type of pressure. We must construct a line-up targeting Victory, not giving Taaffe experience.
 

handyman2190

Bench
Messages
2,622
Have all of you read the BS that chins father has spoken to the nrl about our supposed ambush on his son? That we will try to illegally take him out? This reeks big time,they already stand and obstruct anyone trying to get to him now they are trying to manipulate the refs,what a joke, this is an obstruction of justice,corruption. How much more of a leg up do they want? We may as well not turn up!! If i was bennet id put a complaint in to the nrl, and use this as motivation for the players, i hope we make them pay!! I wish i could land my considerable girth on a couple of them!!
 

NovoBunny94

Juniors
Messages
600
Yeah watch the refs penalise our guys at will..

We already didn’t have much of a chance without Trell & the fact that the NRL want a Riff/Storm GF because of the storyline.
Now we don’t have any I believe…

debby downer comment but my two cents
 

BotanyBorn&Bred

Juniors
Messages
1,400
Have all of you read the BS that chins father has spoken to the nrl about our supposed ambush on his son? That we will try to illegally take him out? This reeks big time,they already stand and obstruct anyone trying to get to him now they are trying to manipulate the refs,what a joke, this is an obstruction of justice,corruption. How much more of a leg up do they want? We may as well not turn up!! If i was bennet id put a complaint in to the nrl, and use this as motivation for the players, i hope we make them pay!! I wish i could land my considerable girth on a couple of them!!
Looks like Chin Snr has been reading these boards are well as the Penruff stooges on the other forum 🤣 🤣🤣
 

BotanyBorn&Bred

Juniors
Messages
1,400
Si but the problem is this. If young Taaffe has a Barry Crocker, and let's be realistic here he will be facing a powerful albeit virgin squad armed with lethal punting, should that happen what about his psyche? Will he ever recover if the score ends like 44-6? That's not going to enhance Taaffe's immediate future. He will be chastised and ridiculed and where does that leave the squad going forward? Playoff football is all about pressure and physicality. Bennett has several decent options and that must focus on putting size in that backline. I simply cannot see the relatively smaller Taaffe handling the pressure that is coming his way. I don't feel it. At various stages he struggled against two dud squads in NQ and St Steelers and thus I conclude he is not ready for this. Recall the importance of this: lose here and its a Bronze Medal again for 4 consecutive seasons. That's extremely frustrating given the potency of our squad and it may terminally dent this squad's confidence to win something.
Campbell Graham made big mistakes in his first finals appearances, and the following year still made a crucial mistake in the playoffs. And he was 18 in his first series.

Look at him now......
 

BotanyBorn&Bred

Juniors
Messages
1,400

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has urged NRL match officials to protect halfback Nathan Cleary from unnecessary contact in a bid to throw off the star's lethal kicking game tomorrow night.

The Panthers suspect the Rabbitohs are planning an ambush on Cleary as they try to limit the impact of his kicking game, in a an effort to make things easier for rookie fullback Blake Taaffe.

It comes after the Panthers recently discovered that Rabbitohs officials made a series of complaints to the NRL after Penrith's victory against Souths in round 23. South Sydney was fuming about "blockers" giving Cleary extra time to put up his floating bombs.

The Rabbitohs also highlighted a moment where Isaah Yeo was seen using illegal blocking tactics missed by the referees when the two teams squared off at Suncorp Stadium three weeks ago.

Under the NRL's rules, blockers must be stationary or moving forward, and not able to change direction backwards or sideways.
 

Rabbits20

Immortal
Messages
38,601
Have all of you read the BS that chins father has spoken to the nrl about our supposed ambush on his son? That we will try to illegally take him out? This reeks big time,they already stand and obstruct anyone trying to get to him now they are trying to manipulate the refs,what a joke, this is an obstruction of justice,corruption. How much more of a leg up do they want? We may as well not turn up!! If i was bennet id put a complaint in to the nrl, and use this as motivation for the players, i hope we make them pay!! I wish i could land my considerable girth on a couple of them!!

That’s the article.
 
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