Titans v Rabbitohs: Five key points
Greg Inglis shows what he can do, Titans' right-side duo continues to fire, hooker the right fit for Daniel Mortimer and GI's advice to Alex Johnston pays off.
Inglis example a lesson to all
Greg Inglis had plenty of excuses at his disposal in the wake of Origin I on Wednesday night.
He could have returned to the Rabbitohs and said that the bout of tonsilitis he suffered had taken too much of a toll to play a second game in four days
After copping a knock so heavy in the 56th minute that the South Sydney doctor refused to allow him to return to the field, Inglis would have been excused for sending a senior teammate to the post-match press conference in his place.
But not only did he front up to perform his duties as captain on and off the field, he did so in a manner that is an example the young members of the Rabbitohs squad would do well to follow.
"That's something that Greg's really shown and grown as a player," said Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire. "He's had a lot of experience of being able to come back to club land but yesterday at training he put aside what he was doing on Wednesday night and focused on his team and his teammates here.
"He had a good time at training yesterday and I thought he showed a lot of energy in that first half and set up a lot of our play. We need to have a look at our attack but he was in a lot of that while he was out there."
Titans right side a try-scoring bonanza
They have scored exactly half of their team's total number of tries for 2015 and it is clear that the right-side combination of James Roberts and Anthony Don has become the Titans' greatest attacking threat. With his side bereft of any decent ball in the first half Roberts conjured two tries simply by receiving the ball from Aidan Sezer with time and space to attack the Rabbitohs defence, laying on the opening try for Don and then scoring himself late in the first half. The pair are locked together on 10 tries apiece through 12 rounds with Don's career strike-rate now sitting at an impressive 26 tries from 38 games.
"He has got that in-and-away and the pass and we need him to be in the game," Titans coach Neil Henry said of Roberts. "We probably didn't do justice with our ball control to give him a few more opportunities but he's part of our team and is working on his game as well."
Mortimer's home is at hooker
Daniel Mortimer came to the Titans this time 12 months ago determined to establish himself as an NRL half but if anything his performance against South Sydney showed his greatest value to a team is playing a role at hooker.
During his time out with a wrist injury, Mortimer added two kilograms to his frame in recognition of his impending move back into the middle of the field and continually put his body on the line against the much bigger Bunnies bodies on Saturday.
He made 23 tackles in his first 25-minute stint, finished with 34 for the game and with his ball-playing skills is able to create some nice options for his runners at dummy-half. His kicking game, while one-dimensional, is well suited to kicks from dummy-half and his support play through the middle of the field is a real asset. If he can accept his days as a halfback are over, Mortimer can become a highly valued option at No.9.
Souths attack lacking obvious direction
Rarely has a South Sydney team of recent seasons enjoyed such a great advantage in possession and been unable to blow a team off the park and captain Greg Inglis acknowledges that the team's attack is an area of concern.
The Rabbitohs had been tackled inside the Titans' 20-metre line 27 times before coming up with points in the 23rd minute and the man who finally broke through said it is a matter of transferring their work at training onto the field.
"That's something that we've been working on for the last few weeks," Inglis said of an attack struggling without the influence of injured half Adam Reynolds. "We know it's there, it's just getting it right on the day. Our training's been excellent, everything's been superb, but you can train all you want until you get to a game scenario. We spoke a lot over the past few weeks about what we can fix up and we're definitely improving on it."
Deputy Johnston learning what it takes
He was on hand to take a beautifully-timed pass from Nathan Brown to score the 30th try of his 30-game NRL career to date but it was the advice of Greg Inglis that allowed Alex Johnston to come up with his most vital contribution to his team's 22-16 win.
Thrust back into the fullback role when Inglis left the field concussed in the 56th minute, Johnston crossed four minutes later and then came up with the try-saving tackle as Lachlan Burr looked to crash over for the Titans in the dying stages.
"Just never give up on any play and assume nothing that's going to happen," said Inglis of the advice he has passed on to Johnston. "He's a great kid and I'm lucky enough that he's at our club and re-signed. With Alex, he's still learning and full credit to him, he's going out there and doing his job the best he can."