QUICK WRAP: Cowboys at Bulldogs
2 April 2023 - Canterbury play North Queensland in round 5 of the NRLM season in late Sunday slot at Stadium Australia, Sydney
Was the game worth watching?
Sure but just watch the golden point period as a microcosm of the larger, more sodden albeit tight, contest. I think we needed this match of two upper middle class teams to gauge their respective chops. However, with the rain, that may complicate the validity of the final assessment, as does the absence of Nanai, Drinkwater and Taulagi.
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Did the Cowboys look like the better team?
No, because the better team would not have given up that last try. They also would have set Valentine Holmes up for a long field goal shot in golden point instead of going to Townsend on every 5th. They also would have won.
The Bulldogs didn’t fire that many shots at the Cowboys. Canterbury struggled to get down the field into the red zone with tackles up their sleeve, partly because of an inability to make metres, partly because they’d panic and force something that wasn’t on. When they got repeat sets and applied pressure in the last ten minutes, they cracked the Cowboys for the game levelling score. The Dogs still have the air of a team relying on individual brilliance, instead of team work - the hallmark of an average team with good players.
If North Queensland had been able to execute cleanly, it would have been a different ball game. Still, when you factor in who was missing, it’s not that bad a performance. When you consider who the Bulldogs were missing through injuries on the day, it becomes more of a concern. The Cowboys are looking competent but also very pedestrian.
Were they the better team?
The advanced stats give a marginal victory to the Bulldogs. The Cowboys are closer on the traditional metrics. The Bulldogs even missed more tackles and were out-kicked by Townsend but the little differences, the extra metres, the extra ball, the extra breaks, were worth a single point of difference. It was close, we get it.
Did you notice?
Hey did you see the Cowboys blow two tries they should have scored just before halftime?
That’s not good. I wonder how scoring those tries would have changed the outcome of the game?
The only thing more embarrassing than the fake try celebrations were the commentators pretending Hess had gotten anywhere near grounding that second try.
The Cowboys tried to muscle up in the early phase of the game, to mixed success. After half time, they picked up the tempo and switched to Dearden kicking. I’m not sure these wrinkles in their game plan have much impact on the outcome either way. They probably should’ve focussed on punishing the Dogs while up a man but they ended up conceding a try.
Jayden Okunbor hip dropping Taumalolo might have been the single most effective thing he could have done to help his team win the game and he couldn’t even do that right.
Tom Dearden had a lively game. I don’t think it’s a case of “how could the Broncos let him go?” when the Broncos organisation he was part of, mired in its own self-made bullshit, could not help him in any way. He should consider himself lucky though, as not many get this kind of second chance. Good for him for taking advantage.
Kyle Feldt needs to find something to contribute other than diving for penalties, celebrating tries that weren’t scored and faking crusher penalties. The entire stadium saw him obstruct Addo-Carr. Maybe try finding some yards? Yes, faking it worked against the Tigers that time but the Tigers are the NRL’s Washington Generals. A competent team would’ve put the ball in Addo-Carr’s hands and let him deep fry Feldt. You know, like the Titans did once or twice.
Tom Chester should think about running it straight. He loves a sideways run before contact. I’d say he’s 20 kilos under weight for a first grade fullback but Jayden Campbell’s still in the league.
Josh Reynolds’ first significant contribution to the game was conceding half a break. Welcome back, I guess.
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