Ok. Had a sleep to get over it. Watched the replay twice. Lets try this again...
1 KEVIN LOCKE - Despite my first reaction he actually played well. He offered abit on attack and was pretty dependable out the back. No one was to know the Eels would kick so early in sets. In one set they kicked on the 2nd tackle.
2 GLEN FISIIAHI - Was really impressed with his defensive effort. Was there on more then one occasion to cover Hurrell. The scoreline would only have been worse without his inclusion in the team. Sadly he fumbled the ball twice. Pretty sure he would of scored the Warriors second try but I think he was standing far too flat. The pass from Shaun Johnson wasnt bad.
3 DANE NIELSEN - Thought he was standing to far back to let in the Eels third try just before the break. Dont really like his defence when playing the wing. That being said I thought he had a pretty good game all up and definately showed alot of determination in carrying a couple players on his way to scoring his try.
4 KONRAD HURRELL - There werent many opportunities or space for Konnie to do what he does best during the game. Was found wanting on defence afew times but his only real mistake was getting bumped to let in Haynes hattrick. Was very fortunate to have Fish cover him a couple times. Gave away a penalty and made an error. Not his best effort but by no means his worst. It seems to me to be more a case of lacking the stamina required to play a full 80 minute game.
5 MANU VATUVEI - After taking the second hitup of the match I had high hopes he was going to have a cracker. His try saving hit on Cheyse Blair was brilliant. That looked for all money like he was going to score that. Sadly he left with a 'rolled ankle' after only 18 minutes on the field and we missed his spark.
6 THOMAS LEULUAI - Made some really good solid tackles but sadly missed 3 as well. In his defence a couple were cover tackles after others had missed their ones. He definately plays the senior halves role and has a huge input into the defensive efforts of the team. Would like to see him take the line more but happy enough with his efforts. Was really unlucky not to score the opening try because even without the assistance of Todd Im certain he would of scored (BTW, I think it was a fair call by the refs. This isnt Union and that wasnt a maul).
7 SHAUN JOHNSON - I was intially critical of Shaun Johnson's game but after watching the replay I have to say he played pretty well. Needs to work on his passing game. His pass to Cheyse Blair was forgettable as was his pass to Neilsen that was lucky to stay in the field of play. Had the pass to Blair gone to its intended target, Manu, we were almost certain to score the opening try of the game and I would of won $200 . That aside I think he did create abit of play. Thing with Shaun Johnson, or any half, is that they are only as good as their support players.
8 SAM RAPIRA - Ran hard at the line all game but seemed to lack his usual punch. Was still solid though and made some great cover tackles.
9 ELIJAH TAYLOR - Couple of people have had a go at ET for looking tired within the first half but if you seriously watch the replay and keep an eye on him you will see why. He was a defensive beast and I take my hat off to him for putting in such a huge effort. And Im not talking about third man in flops either. He was brilliant. As far as his passing game goes I honestly dont think he went bad at all. Talk of not having a 'crisp pass' is laughable and BS. He passes no different to Godinet. Watch the replay. Did throw a couple passes that were low and was penalised for a shoulder charge but all up a great effort.
10 BEN MATULINO - No surprises that he showed up again and put his hearts and guts into it. Made 100 metres and made 32 tackles (had to triple check that stat). What a beast! Still has his sting in the tackle, even without the shoulder charge. Didnt make his usual 140+ plus metres but still very impressed with him as usual.
11 FELETI MATEO - Something not quite right with Mateo? Just didnt seem to be playing with any confidence. Made 2 errors and a penalty. The penalty he got for not getting off Hayne fast enough was in the set just after he lost the ball cold afew metres from the Eels line. Was caught with his pants down when Sandow went over for the first try of the game. His other error was passing the ball to Cheyse Blair (whats it with this blair guy? Should just sign him up). At least 2 of his 3 missed tackles were just really lazy half assed grabs. Somethings not quite right with him. Not playing to his usual level.
12 SIMON MANNERING (c) - Had afew errors which was surprising for our otherwise dependable skipper. Made a huge play when he stripped the ball off Loko but that was all undone in the very next play. Been said so many times now that it risks becoming cliche but I'd really like to see him spaz out on the boys just once.
13 TODD LOWRIE - Played a good game. Unfortunately cited for 'driving' in TL's try.
15 JACOB LILLYMAN - Not everyday your 2 bench props outrun your starting set but thats exactly what happened. Made 110 metres, 2 tacklebreaks, 1 linebreak and chipped in with a handy 23 tackles as well. Top it all off he rans a nice line and gets a try. Nice reward for a great effort.
16 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO - One would think that Seb could run through a brick wall, punch a hole through it and still up and play the ball. That is what you call solid! Sadly though he is not up to scratch on defence. That may have more to do with him being left out at centre for much of the game and he was certainly found wanting when Sandow slipped past him (we we're very lucky that was called a no try because of Fuifui's obstruction on Mateo). He's got alot to learn on D but I must give him credit for coming on for Manu and playing long minutes. Made a gang of metres too.
17 PITA GODINET - Had a near instant result with his flat pass to setup Lillymans try. Love the way he takes it to the line at times then passes to a supporting forward. At times it failed too so sometimes he just needs to get it to Shaun Johnson or TL. Tackling is still on the improve so thats promising but he needs to add weight to have more stopping power. Some tackles he was hanging on like a leech. At least he never let go. Really needs to be playing in the halves IMO.
20 STEVE RAPIRA - Had a game to forget TBH. Missed 4 tackles out of 19. A couple were crucial and resulted in tries to the Eels. Really does need to make those 1 on 1 tackles. Just aim for the lower ribs mate. I'll leave it at that.
Although it looked like our edge defence was letting us down again IMO it was more the middle being a little too compressed. We were marking their big men but at the expense of their little guys. A couple of skip passes or, as in the case of Sio's last try, a kick over the top and we were exposed. Thats not to say we didnt let in some soft tries even when we did mark up (Sandows break from a half ass Mateo grab and Steve slipping off as well as Konnie getting bumped off by Sio (?) for Haynes try). Our D was woeful but I think it only needs a little tweaking and we should be right. For one thing, we should never have let Sandow have so much room. Our centre defenders really need to get in there and shut down play before it reaches our edge. If we give Maloney that much room next week then we are in for some real trouble.
One thing I must add also is that the Eels played really well, particularly Sandow who showed how to lead a team around. Reni Maitua's offload to setup Haynes first try was just brilliant and would have ended up a try against any team. Sad that they made more errors but still put 30 points on us. They played with unity and it showed.
Thats not to absolve the boys of any blame. Our first initial tackles were weak and we let in alot of tacklebreaks because of it. Our errors and penalties to me is what really killed our offense. You cant form an attack if your spending all your gas tackling. We made an extra 40 then the opposition.
We still havent sorted our last play options. Theres no coordination on the kick chase and Dane Neilsen had to make a kick when he was passed the ball with no options on the last play. This is unacceptable. Shaun Johnson, TL and Elliot need to work on this big time as there seems to be no direction or leadership shown on the 5th tackle.
Its not panic stations yet. Boys just need to be more accountable, move faster off the line and make their tackles. Next week will be interesting…