Titans five-eighth Greg Bird dives over for a try after overcoming a shaky start to match at BCU International Stadium.
Titans five-eighth Greg Bird dives over for a try after overcoming a shaky start to match at BCU International Stadium. Trevor Veale

Rabbitohs coach has a headache

SOUTH Sydney coach John Lang has a major headache to contend with ahead of the Rabbitohs’ opening match of the NRL season against Sydney Roosters.

Already missing star signing Greg Inglis and with fellow internationals Sam Burgess, Isaac Luke and Michael Crocker under injury clouds, Lang’s worries were heightened when prop Ben Lowe picked up an injury during the Rabbitohs’ trial match against Gold Coast at BCU International Stadium.

Even taking into account the absence of his star players, Lang would harbour serious doubts about his attacking options as the tried-and-tested halves combination of Chris Sandow and John Sutton was virtually impotent in the 42-4 loss to the Titans.

Lang though said the halves weren’t the only ones to blame for the poor performance.

“Our halves struggled, our forwards struggled, everybody struggled,” Lang lamented.

“I reckon there might have been three blokes who looked good at times but we were terrible.”

While concerned by his team’s performance, Lang believes that the below-par display was more a sign of a poor attitude on the night.

“We were flat as tacks, terrible,” he said.

“I thought we had a bit of energy last week but we had no energy at all tonight.”

Lang’s Gold Coast counterpart John Cartwright has no such worries.

In his first match at five-eighth for the Titans since Mat Rogers retired, Greg Bird overcame a shaky start to work into some form that culminated with a try in the 69th minute.

Gold Coast dominated proceedings early but was unable to convert its opportunities and was only 8-0 ahead at half-time.

The introduction of Preston Campbell after the main break provided the spark for Gold Coast as he scored two of the Titans’ six second-half tries.

Swapping between fullback and hooker while he was on the field, Cartwright admitted that Campbell had cemented his place in the team as an impact player coming off the bench.

“He has to be there, he just bobs up in the right place all of the time,” Cartwright said of the diminutive veteran.

“It’s no coincidence that as soon as he got out there he made two breaks and scored a couple of tries.

“He just has that natural know-how of where to be.”

Although pleased with the ease of the victory, Cartwright admitted that having more players on the bench may have been the difference between a solid win and a large score line.

“We had a lot more numbers than Souths and they got a bit tired towards the end of the game,” he said. “But we stuck to it and I think it turned out good.”

MATCH DETAILS

GOLD COAST 42 (Preston Campbell 2, Clinton Toopi, David Mead, Joe Vickery, Greg Bird, Steve Michaels, Dominique Peyroux tries; Joe Vickery 3, Scott Prince, Jordan Rankin goals) defeated SOUTH SYDNEY 4 (Nathan Merritt try).

Crowd: 6125.



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