NRL Round 17 – Canberra v St George
This match up was selected due to the media beat up of the ‘Hoodoo’ that the Dragons have when travelling to Canberra. The concept of a ‘hoodoo’ is a classic media strategy to generate interest and emotion in the contest. In relation to performance, ‘hoodoos’ are simply garbage and are only traps for the mentally vulnerable.
Canberra Mental Strengths:
• Used their weight of possession at the start of the match to secure consecutive line drop outs before posting first points for a 6-0 lead. A composed and well executed opening 10 minutes from the Raiders. • Great awareness from an individual on the back of great field position enables a one-on-one strip to give the Raiders possession only 10 metres out. The composure from the opening exchanges is again on display and another drop-out is forced. • Consecutive tries in two minutes are the reward for the Raiders not only completing their sets, but forcing the Dragons to repeatedly bring the ball back off their own line. • Managed to come up with a match winning try with 2 minutes remaining.
Canberra Mental Vulnerabilities:
• Conceded their first try on the back of a penalty despite having the advantage with field position. • Two soft tries from dummy-half when defending their own line cost the Raiders the lead. • A missed penalty conversion to level the scores with 6 minutes to play – the kick missed by plenty and looked like an attempt to ‘guide’ the ball rather than kick it.
St George Mental Strengths:
• They were starved of possession (60-40) in the first half by a Raiders team who completed 95% of their first half sets and enjoyed much better field position but the Dragons still managed to take the lead after 68 minutes of play. A very gutsy performance. • Individual efforts form Soward (40/20), Rein (2 dummy half tries), Nightingale (head clash plus cleaning up numerous kicks) kept the Dragons in the contest and gave them a lift when they needed it.
St George Mental Vulnerabilities:
• This was a game that lesser sides would have lost by plenty, so there is little in the way of mental vulnerabilities showed by the Dragons. In fact, their mental toughness was on display and it kept them in this contest right up to the 78th minute. They were beaten by a technically better team (possession, completions, field position) on this occasion.
Both sides have a chance of making the finals, however, if either of them do they are too inconsistent to threaten for the title. Especially given the change to the McIntyre system that has sudden death games for teams 5-8 in the 1st week of the semi’s.