The match before the the match of the season part 2. Surely it couldn't be yet another episode of mentally not turning up? Could it?
This game at least started like we all hoped. Quality ball in good field territory, and before long we made several line breaks through our outside attacking weapons. This should have been the 2nd week in a row of racking up a big score against pretty average opposition and despite losing 3 big players we surely had the weapons our there to do it. T Rex once again looked like a 15 year old accidentally thrown into an under 9's game, shoving away tackle attempts with one hand and offloading at will.
Hey this offload thing is easy right? Soon everybody was doing it and our attack began to resemble the Sydney Kings. Lot's of fancy footwork, offloads, layups and tricks galore, but ultimately, oddly, a bunch of players largely running sideways with seemingly little rehearsed thought as to how to actually convert points.
To make matters worse the opposition had little to worry us but in their limited opportunities did the simple things right. Spread quick ball wide and a winger like Uate will usually score. It could have been twice save for the heroics of Keiran Headband Foran. (Personally I like the long locks but maybe he was angrier when he had the buzz cut?) I digress.
Yep all the 'not turning up' fears were there. We looked sloppier than a servo slurpee and as the half wore on seemed to decide the try line was the touch line. Please lets get rid of this crabbing sideways rubbish and run hard and straight.
A pretty poor first half but hey 10 nil was hardly a big problem. Surely Toov's would go nuts, we'd come out meaning business and efficiently turn the game around for two vital competition points. I mean this was only Newcastle, just two tries and we'd be leading. 22-18? Yep that would do fine.
The first 15 minutes would tell the story. Did we really want this? Surely a half decent effort would land the chocolates. Well the trouble is you have to actually put in a half decent effort to taste them, and it didn't take long to see ours was about 25% at best.
What a strange scenario. One very average football team (them) playing with massive heart and purpose, against a massively talented team of grand final champions (yes that's still us) playing like a bunch of distracted schoolboys.
Little point describing the remainder of the game in any more detail other than the fact we got our lazy arses well and truly smacked. Not content to actually let this one go gently with a close-ish loss, we ended up committing the ultimate sin of really letting it go big time conceding a truly embarrassing 32 points. Our worse loss in some time, and it would have been to nil if not for Jamie Lyon being one of the few trying to do something, making a neat break and flicking a lovely ball to an alert but nonetheless surprised Kite to finally score his first try since 2009 (according to the inanely one sided Andy Raymond on Fox).
Last weeks 2nd half might have been tough to watch, but at least it was a harmless snooze fest from an impossible to lose position after 40 scintillating points. This performance however was a miserable tale of no commitment from go to woe.
DCE, way too cheerily for mine after full time, even went straight for the infuriating cliche "we just didn't turn up". And is it just me or does anyone else absolutely loathe this practice of players standing around laughing and chatting to the opposition after losing like it's a Sunday barbie in someone's backyard? Does anyone actually care about playing that poorly? If I was Toov's I would have hauled their arses into the dressing room and announced tomorrow's training starts at 6am and if anyone's seen laughing they can do it twice.
But maybe us fans take it more seriously. Back to reality. The biggest shame of 2012 is this disturbing mental pattern of obsessively saving ourselves for the big games, all but conceding the previous match and in the process throwing away vital points. The stats don't lie.
Rd 7 - poor home loss v Titans
R8 - brilliant away win v Dogs
Rd 9 - poor home win v Raiders
Rd 10 - brilliant away win v Broncos
Rd 12 - poor away loss v Penrith
Rd 13 - brilliant home win v Saints
Rd 19 - poor away loss v Newcastle
Rd 20 - brilliant home win v Dogs?
Sure these big games have been great wins, but you can't win the comp conceding this many losses in between. We've now won 10 games and lost 7, and in fact remarkably 5 of those 7 losses have been to the weak bottom 8 teams. Even winning just 2 or 3 of those would put us at the top end of the table. Will it come back to bite us by September? Time's running out if we're going to make that a no.
Dean Whare: Did his best filling in for Brett with a couple of excellent runs but could well learn from looking for support.
Jorge Taufau: Not a game for our wingers tonight.
Jamie Buhrer: 2nd week in a row playing out of position which in fairness is a tough ask.
Jamie Lyon: One of the few who looked like he was mentally out there. Tried hard and saved us the embarrassment of a nil score.
David Williams: A weeks a long time in footy. Sure the ball didn't come his way but you have to go looking for it. Remember Hoppa seniors 22 hits up a match?
Keiran Foran: Like Jamie Lyon never stopped trying and one of our few stand outs.
Daly Cherry-Evans: Like everyone else looked like his mind was 7 days ahead at Brookie
Daniel Harrison: Not his fault, it's the big boys who've gotta set up wins
Tony Williams: The stats look impressive (142 metres, 7 offloads) but somehow it just all looks so mentally lazy.
Anthony Watmough: Never the same player since forced away from his old left side position, perpetually confused in the middle and ultimately running sideways trying to find an invisible path which results in next to nothing.
Jason King: Was he out there?
Matt Ballin: The usual 40 plus tackles (in fact this week a massive 55) but his poorest dummy half game in years.
Brent Kite: Tried hard but made next to no impact. At least he's avoided the nudie run.
Joe Guluvao: A season too long? Too harsh? Maybe but crikey somebody has go to do something.
Darcy Lussick: Was he out there?
George Rose: 51 metres hardly troubling anyone.
Tim Robinson: The rare time he gets a game we once again only throw him on when it's well over. What's the point?
No injuries? Can't think of anything else.
This massive obsession of mentally not turning up the week before the big games.
The now insane loss of critical competition points to weak bottom 8 teams. We should be top 4 in a canter.
A dreadful mentally absent performance, which is more than likely proof that with the Stewarts and Matai back we'll play out of our skins to smack the Desdogs on Fri night. Looking forward is the only option.