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QUICK WRAP: Devils vs Tigers
14 May 2023 - Norths play Easts in round 9 of the Queensland Cup on Sunday afternoon at Bishop Park, Nundah
How was it?
In a weekend of blowouts, this was another one. It was an uninteresting slog that I didn’t finish.
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This was a 24-0 drubbing before I switched it off, which makes the last three tries scored the result of the most garbage of garbage times. When they didn’t drop the ball, the Pitchforks put together a few opportunities but never looked threatening. Ahearn was injured, Donovan doesn’t impress and Rowbotham is a child, so playmaking was thin on the ground as it was. Dare I say they missed Jock Madden? That was before mixing in conditions and a pack that didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about the task ahead.
Easts didn’t play much better but decided to take everything Norths offered them, capitalising on their numerous, many, frequent errors. 8-0 at half time, the Black and Golds ripped the game open in the first ten minutes after the break, scoring three tries, and didn’t look back.
Yes, that is the Devils collectively producing at a level below what we would expect a BRL team would produce1. Wonderful stuff.
I also wanted to draw attention to the 58% completion rate for Norths and the marginally better 69% for Easts. Fantastic.
29 total errors. Bueno.
Under the microscope
I was going to do Xavier Willison this week except that Willison sort of plodded around for the first 21 minutes, went off and didn’t come back on until there was 25 minutes to go. The game was gone by then. It was an anonymous, sluggish day for the Norths pack, including our Broncos prospect, although I’m considering a small investment in Viko Puliueva.
Instead, let’s look at Solomona Faataape. Faataape debuted for the Tigers in 2021 and had a great season last year, scoring 12 tries in 18 games for a very average Easts side. Born on Christmas Day 2000, Faataape played Mal Meninga for Souths before moving from West End to Coorparoo to play Colts at Easts, scoring 17 tries in 27 games2.
There isn't a whole lot about him online but he's put together a really solid body of work over the last twelve months. I'm really surprised there isn't more hype for this USDA-certified grade A Dude, especially as the Storm seem to be struggling to put together a decent set of outside backs.
He’s got a good shoulder.
Loves a post-contact metre.
A bit of cheek, as well.
He puts it all together into a power running game.
He’s picked up a try and some serious metres off Tristan Hope threatening a run from the ruck. I wonder if there’s a team in the NRL that has a rake with similar tendencies who might be able to feed Faataape into good space?
Frustratingly, the Tigers spent most of the game going down the other side of the field, so we weren’t able to collect more bright spots in this absolute bluger of a game.
This game had everything: rain, errors and penalties.
We got the rare bad Jack Ahearn game. Now that may have had a lot to do with his dislocated finger but we also got two short drop-outs that were recovered by the black and golds for tries. While Norths are developing a touch of the Walker Bros with their short kicks, sometimes it’s not the worst idea in the world to just put boot to ball.
Tariq Sims: still got it. Scored a try, set up another, 180m. Let the man cook.
I think we’ve seen enough of both of these teams for now. The Devs, for all their success, are extremely unlikely to be playing finals football in 2023. While they were only fourth last year, they were 6-2 through round 9. This year they’re 2-5-2 and fourth last, which is not good. The Pitchforks don’t have the cattle or the enthusiasm or the skill and even the venerable Ahearn is showing signs of slowing down. They’re clearly better than the Cutters, Jets and Clydesdales but probably not necessarily better than the Hunters or Pride.
The Tiges are, surprisingly, 6-2-1. Bouncing back from a torrid 2022, the Big Cats have beaten a lot of the bad teams, lost to Burleigh and Wynnum and “drew” in that rained out game with Redcliffe. They’ll probably be there in September, although I think it’s likely they’ll be playing an eliminator in week one, rather than a qualifier, although their draw is not especially difficult looking.
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Fielding Wests or Valleys would’ve at least been a bit more interesting from a historical perspective.