Butts: Knights get their tactics right THIRSTY WORK: Sione Mata’utia led from the front against the Raiders last weekend in a committed team performance. Picture: Getty Images
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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsYou had to be there last Mother’s Day Sunday at the International Sports Centre.
A breakthrough win for the Knights and one I hope the boys and their partners duly enjoyed post stadium.
Tough, simple and single-minded, their winning strategy included the rugby league reverse rope-a-dope:complete the setand kick the ball into touch as many times as you get the chance. None of this up-tempo, keep-the-ball-in-play kind of carry-on pioneered by the Johns brothers in their heyday.
The plan was all about handing the ball back to the opposition in a place of the Knights’ choosing,on the opposition’s 10-metre line, at the base of a set-piece scrum.
As a tactic, it can lessen the penetration and damage wrought by big men catching and running full pelt from the deep. In this case, the normally careering Nik Cotric or the rampaging Jordan Rapana were reduced to bit-players in a field-position bonanza for the home team.
All in all, a good plan. Well coached and nicely executed. Oh, by the way, the Raiders didn’t help themselves serving up sustained periods of ordinary football, guaranteed to raise the ire of combustible coach Ricky Stuart.
But if it were all easy, everyone would be doing it. What the Knights did well to complement was hang on to the ball, enjoying their most significant share of possession in many years. Gosh, if nrlstats苏州美甲学校 finally updates, I may be able to confirm they completed 19 from 19 in the second half.
My recollection is hazy, but I think I only completed more than that on pain of never going home, at a long training session under Mal Reilly back in the day! Kudos to the team and connections.
Hooker Danny Levi was enormous taking momentum forward until ably deputised by Tyler Randall. His big forwards supported the charge by punching half gaps down the middle like a well oiled diesel machine. Simple stuff. Then kick!
Now thischicken-at-the-line, conservative bent can be risky sometimes, eating into the hands of a more upwardly mobile and aggressive pack of forwards.
But, on Mother’s Day, weight of possession and belief was too much for the big palookas from the nation’s capitaland they ran out of puff. Like Ali beating George Foreman, it did, on this occasion, do the job.
Examining the softer elements, one assumes the Knights held few fears of the Raiders having lapped them 40-0 in the pre-season. Not a confidence they can draw on at the ISC this Sunday, mind you, after themselves being lapped by the Chocolate Soldiers barely six weeks ago.
A real positivein the absence of club captain Trent Hodkinson is the team leadership of Sione Mata’utia, aided by his nominal lieutenants in Levi, Lamb and Gagai. Sione has been showing he becomes the role, thriving on the honour and responsibility and taking his game to a level that belies his youth. A real bonus for the club.
So, can they grab two in a row before the bye? I think they can. Mitch Barnett is back. A massive bonus if fit. Trust he’s given that ankle enough time.
Likewise, the Saifiti brothers are looking more and more at home in the big time with every outing. As is the Ross Dog, who, for his part, is howling for as much action as he can get. Throw in a couple of players shopping themselves in the marketplace and you have the makings of a confident, motivated and organised football team. Specials!
Whether the Panthers are quite as enthusiastic about our chances on Sunday, I doubt it. But you can be sure the likes of Tyrone Peachey, Matt Moylan and Peter Wallace will be bringing their A games.
Coming into Origin selection, I don’t think there is much secret as to how Laurie Daley will shape his team. Most of the players pick themselves. And, might I add, are our best chance to wrest back the shield.
Robbie Farah (9), Mitchell Pierce (7), James Maloney (6) and Matt Moylan (1) are the best spinewe have.
Incredibly well tuned individuals playing the house down for their clubs, I can’t think of a more talented and experienced combination (coming out of NSW, that is).
All are capable of playing the game at the leading edge of performance.
Whether that will be enough against the league equivalent to the Beatles,Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd, over three torrid encounters, will depend on a lot of things.
Not least, their teammates, injuries, a vocal Maroons home crowd (on two occasions) andreferees.
In terms of the forwards, the Waratah state have big, mobileand talented master tradesmen in Josh Jackson, Andrew Fifita and Boyd Cordner. Add the aggression and finesse of both Jake Trbojevic and Wade Graham, and you have the makings of a team damn near invincible. Here’s hoping!
Back in the day, the Mal “the mobile mountain”Meningawas the one bear you didn’t wake up. Ever.
For when he was rousedhe unleashed furious anger with no turning back.
I’m seeing similar traits in the tank with hair, Konrad Hurrell, of the Gold Coast.
After dropping a ball at the start of the second half of the game against the Knights two weeks back, he belted the next Knight he could find, stole the ball and went on to engineer a 32-point avalanche. Phenomenal.
The same thing happened last week against the Storm.
Tip to opposition: compliment his fro,remark on his shiny white teeth, but never ever get him riled up. Just saying.
On the deadly serious front, this week it’s the Beanies for Brain Cancer round. The Mark Hughes Foundation will lead fund raising and awareness acrossthe weekend to reinvest in research for a cure.
When the disease remains the leading killer of our kids, and is the leading cancer in under-40s, it’s up to us all to make a difference.
How to look cool this weekend while staying warm and doing your bit? Grab a beanie. A more important small investmentI can’t think of!