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Thread: End of Season

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    Quote Originally Posted by forward ref View Post
    Speaking of which, what has happened to Wellens?
    Seen him run on after a try is scored in the last couple of matches. He has had a new 'short back & sides', so maybe you didn't recognise him with his mask on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    To an extent, he was dealt a rough hand with the early departure of Thompson. In 2017 and the first part of 2018, Holbrook adopted the approach of having one of Walmsley and Thompson on the bench and one starting.
    It took me ten minutes of the season to take a dislike to the tactics.

    With Luke Thompson in the side we lost four games out of the opening seven fixtures. Since the departure of Thompson we have only lost three from thirteen, so I don’t really think we can blame the loss of Thompson too much, if at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    The problem we had under Holbrook was when teams coped with us in the first 20 minutes (see Cup final against Wire), we struggled and could not open up defences. When teams couldn’t cope with our pack at first, we tired them out, took advantage of the resulting defensive lapses and won (see play offs last year).
    The problem in tough games has been the same throughout both Holbrook and Woolf. We haven’t a scrum half and leader who can guide us a round, employ a kicking game and keep the opponents in their own territory. You can get away with it in the mundane fixtures, but when the chips are down in close battles it’s that Ingredient X that gets you over the line. We will pretty much always come up short in the big match until we sign a decent No.7.
    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    Woolf has tried the same approach as Holbrook, far more than many of us acknowledge, but with Thompson leaving we have been firing on one cylinder. We have also been without Percival all year so lack strike out wide. You could tell the boost we had in the first 20 minutes of the cup game against Wire with Percy in the squad.
    Losing Percival was big, but I don’t understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasn’t scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.

    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    This, combined with lockdown, self-isolation and changes in routine and training methods has meant it has been a hard season. Very few teams top the league in any meaningful competition in any sport three years on the run. We were within a whisker of it, and probably would have won if the structure hadn’t been changed at the last second. Hardly a disaster.
    My gut feeling is that we’d have finished fourth if the season hadn’t been curtailed. There’s no way, we’d have finished top. That would have required Wigan to lose and us beating Catalans away plus Hull and Warrington at home. For me, Wigan would have lost none and we would quite likely have lost the first and third of our remaining games.
    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    To sack Woolf would be very harsh and may even put off future coaches from joining us for fear of the trigger being pulled after, objectively, we have done well.
    There’s no way he will be sacked. It’s not worth discussing. He may guide us to the title next year, who knows, but I won’t be looking forward to watching it. His style of rugby bores me to tears.
    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    Where you can criticise Woolf is his lack of adaptation. We have a huge over-reliance on Walmsley. If you nullify him, you nullify our whole attacking game. This is probably why we haven’t beaten Wigan or Warrington this year (apart from Wigan’s reserves).
    That is certainly one reason, with the other being the lack of quality and leadership in the halves, with no last set plays, no invention and a wholly one dimensional kicking game
    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    Our lack of big-game success over many years and poor record against the big teams this year concerns me. I struggle to see how we beat Warrington and Wigan in consecutive weeks. I wouldn’t rule out us beating one, but beating both back-to-back is probably going to be beyond us. The big concern is we are playing dull rugby and it doesn’t look to be putting us in the best position to win trophies (that’s not to say we won’t, just we aren’t positioning ourselves as we all we could be). That is the worst of both worlds.
    That’s it. We could possibly beat one of them, to beat both is beyond us. In fact, even under Holbrook, I don’t think we’d have won the Grand Final had we not played Salford. Much as we were a million times better to watch, the squad weaknesses were still there and we lacked the leadership required on the field for those occasions, and that’s why Woolf will still be here next year. He hasn’t changed much with the personnel, just the style. He thought it would play to our strengths, but ultimately it’s been just the opposite. The pack is past its best but the three quarter line is as good as any in the country, but he never wants to use it.
    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    What I do like about Woolf is that he seems to have identified the weaknesses and doesn’t have his head in the sand like Cunningham did. He is taking steps to strengthen the pack next year with Joel Thompson and we are linked with some big, nasty NRL props.
    I don’t think he’s identified our key weaknesses at all. I think he’s merely reinforcing his belief that we should try to win by merely trying to plough it down the central reservation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    It took me ten minutes of the season to take a dislike to the tactics.

    With Luke Thompson in the side we lost four games out of the opening seven fixtures. Since the departure of Thompson we have only lost three from thirteen, so I don’t really think we can blame the loss of Thompson too much, if at all.



    The problem in tough games has been the same throughout both Holbrook and Woolf. We haven’t a scrum half and leader who can guide us a round, employ a kicking game and keep the opponents in their own territory. You can get away with it in the mundane fixtures, but when the chips are down in close battles it’s that Ingredient X that gets you over the line. We will pretty much always come up short in the big match until we sign a decent No.7.


    Losing Percival was big, but I don’t understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasn’t scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.



    My gut feeling is that we’d have finished fourth if the season hadn’t been curtailed. There’s no way, we’d have finished top. That would have required Wigan to lose and us beating Catalans away plus Hull and Warrington at home. For me, Wigan would have lost none and we would quite likely have lost the first and third of our remaining games.


    There’s no way he will be sacked. It’s not worth discussing. He may guide us to the title next year, who knows, but I won’t be looking forward to watching it. His style of rugby bores me to tears.


    That is certainly one reason, with the other being the lack of quality and leadership in the halves, with no last set plays, no invention and a wholly one dimensional kicking game


    That’s it. We could possibly beat one of them, to beat both is beyond us. In fact, even under Holbrook, I don’t think we’d have won the Grand Final had we not played Salford. Much as we were a million times better to watch, the squad weaknesses were still there and we lacked the leadership required on the field for those occasions, and that’s why Woolf will still be here next year. He hasn’t changed much with the personnel, just the style. He thought it would play to our strengths, but ultimately it’s been just the opposite. The pack is past its best but the three quarter line is as good as any in the country, but he never wants to use it.


    I don’t think he’s identified our key weaknesses at all. I think he’s merely reinforcing his belief that we should try to win by merely trying to plough it down the central reservation.
    Agree with all of this. Said it before and will do again, Woolf thinks he is coaching Hull KR or Wakefield with an over reliance on conservatism to win the stats battle. That this can be done with the three quarter line that you mention seems to have escaped attention. As also mentioned those tactics can often come up short against teams that are well equipped on both sides of the ball like Warrignton. This should surprise no-one; we saw of Bradford several times at the turn of 2000 when the shoe was on the other foot.

    I recall Stevo saying at that time Bradford had no Plan B. Same could be said of Saints - how many people would ever back us to score outside our own half against a semi decent team? I'm ignoring broken play like Grace's try from kicks vs Leeds. The reality is we've become a score inside the 20 team.

    The only time they are consistently used is for the uber-boring, dour 'exit sets' where alternate wingers and sometimes the centre just run it one man in from tackles 2,3 and sometimes 4. Its the footballing equivalent of the long ball; I recall you mentioning RL fans rose tinted glasses when it comes to their opinion of our sport. I can honestly say it would be a hard sell to persuade any passive sporting fan that those tactics are great to watch.

    A point on your kicking game observation as well; lost count of the times Fages gets no 'hang time' on the ball from deep. Not only does it go straight to winger/full back, but watch how quickly it gets there. Gives less time to apply pressure / chase.

    Lets be honest and stop defending Woolf. He's inherited a team that won the League by 16 points and has benefited from JH's changes. Players like LMS, Taia and Amor still look like they've mileage in them. The current tactics are far removed from Saints culture and I fear we're just destined to come up wit the same hard luck stories in these play offs. Teams like Hull we should blast away but you can virtually guarantee it would be a close game as we'll employ exactly the same limited game plan that Hull FC have used for years. A borefest beckons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    It took me ten minutes of the season to take a dislike to the tactics.

    With Luke Thompson in the side we lost four games out of the opening seven fixtures. Since the departure of Thompson we have only lost three from thirteen, so I don’t really think we can blame the loss of Thompson too much, if at all.



    The problem in tough games has been the same throughout both Holbrook and Woolf. We haven’t a scrum half and leader who can guide us a round, employ a kicking game and keep the opponents in their own territory. You can get away with it in the mundane fixtures, but when the chips are down in close battles it’s that Ingredient X that gets you over the line. We will pretty much always come up short in the big match until we sign a decent No.7.


    Losing Percival was big, but I don’t understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasn’t scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.



    My gut feeling is that we’d have finished fourth if the season hadn’t been curtailed. There’s no way, we’d have finished top. That would have required Wigan to lose and us beating Catalans away plus Hull and Warrington at home. For me, Wigan would have lost none and we would quite likely have lost the first and third of our remaining games.


    There’s no way he will be sacked. It’s not worth discussing. He may guide us to the title next year, who knows, but I won’t be looking forward to watching it. His style of rugby bores me to tears.


    That is certainly one reason, with the other being the lack of quality and leadership in the halves, with no last set plays, no invention and a wholly one dimensional kicking game


    That’s it. We could possibly beat one of them, to beat both is beyond us. In fact, even under Holbrook, I don’t think we’d have won the Grand Final had we not played Salford. Much as we were a million times better to watch, the squad weaknesses were still there and we lacked the leadership required on the field for those occasions, and that’s why Woolf will still be here next year. He hasn’t changed much with the personnel, just the style. He thought it would play to our strengths, but ultimately it’s been just the opposite. The pack is past its best but the three quarter line is as good as any in the country, but he never wants to use it.


    I don’t think he’s identified our key weaknesses at all. I think he’s merely reinforcing his belief that we should try to win by merely trying to plough it down the central reservation.
    Great read DD as always. Astute as always

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    Quote Originally Posted by eddiewaringsflatcap View Post
    Agree with all of this. Said it before and will do again, Woolf thinks he is coaching Hull KR or Wakefield with an over reliance on conservatism to win the stats battle. That this can be done with the three quarter line that you mention seems to have escaped attention. As also mentioned those tactics can often come up short against teams that are well equipped on both sides of the ball like Warrignton. This should surprise no-one; we saw of Bradford several times at the turn of 2000 when the shoe was on the other foot.

    I recall Stevo saying at that time Bradford had no Plan B. Same could be said of Saints - how many people would ever back us to score outside our own half against a semi decent team? I'm ignoring broken play like Grace's try from kicks vs Leeds. The reality is we've become a score inside the 20 team.

    The only time they are consistently used is for the uber-boring, dour 'exit sets' where alternate wingers and sometimes the centre just run it one man in from tackles 2,3 and sometimes 4. Its the footballing equivalent of the long ball; I recall you mentioning RL fans rose tinted glasses when it comes to their opinion of our sport. I can honestly say it would be a hard sell to persuade any passive sporting fan that those tactics are great to watch.

    A point on your kicking game observation as well; lost count of the times Fages gets no 'hang time' on the ball from deep. Not only does it go straight to winger/full back, but watch how quickly it gets there. Gives less time to apply pressure / chase.

    Lets be honest and stop defending Woolf. He's inherited a team that won the League by 16 points and has benefited from JH's changes. Players like LMS, Taia and Amor still look like they've mileage in them. The current tactics are far removed from Saints culture and I fear we're just destined to come up wit the same hard luck stories in these play offs. Teams like Hull we should blast away but you can virtually guarantee it would be a close game as we'll employ exactly the same limited game plan that Hull FC have used for years. A borefest beckons.
    I see your points in pretty much all of what you're saying. It is the last paragraph that to me, is important & totally valid because it's going to be a carbon copy of the play off and cup defeats of recent years.

    As DD said, I do think it was to our benefit that we played Salford at Old Trafford. However, we were excellent against Wigan. Played so well but it suited us playing Salford & we caught them in the headlights. We did get a few decisions go our way in that game as well.

    We have come up short in previous play off matches by being very conservative & at times, being edged out in the forward battle. Also, the opposition have had a bit more craft than us & we've lost.

    The signings Woolf has made show that he wants to bolster the pack to play his style. That is to bludgeon it up the middle. With the current set, the packs of Wire and Wigan can cope with it easily & I suspect Hull's might as well should we come up against them (unlikely).

    I can see us being dumped out in the semi by Warrington by them containing Walmsley, their forwards hunting in packs & them sharing their go forward. Someone like Clarke, Gelling, Ratchford or Austin will come up with a bit of magic and we will be out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    It took me ten minutes of the season to take a dislike to the tactics.

    With Luke Thompson in the side we lost four games out of the opening seven fixtures. Since the departure of Thompson we have only lost three from thirteen, so I donít really think we can blame the loss of Thompson too much, if at all.



    The problem in tough games has been the same throughout both Holbrook and Woolf. We havenít a scrum half and leader who can guide us a round, employ a kicking game and keep the opponents in their own territory. You can get away with it in the mundane fixtures, but when the chips are down in close battles itís that Ingredient X that gets you over the line. We will pretty much always come up short in the big match until we sign a decent No.7.


    Losing Percival was big, but I donít understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasnít scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.



    My gut feeling is that weíd have finished fourth if the season hadnít been curtailed. Thereís no way, weíd have finished top. That would have required Wigan to lose and us beating Catalans away plus Hull and Warrington at home. For me, Wigan would have lost none and we would quite likely have lost the first and third of our remaining games.


    Thereís no way he will be sacked. Itís not worth discussing. He may guide us to the title next year, who knows, but I wonít be looking forward to watching it. His style of rugby bores me to tears.


    That is certainly one reason, with the other being the lack of quality and leadership in the halves, with no last set plays, no invention and a wholly one dimensional kicking game


    Thatís it. We could possibly beat one of them, to beat both is beyond us. In fact, even under Holbrook, I donít think weíd have won the Grand Final had we not played Salford. Much as we were a million times better to watch, the squad weaknesses were still there and we lacked the leadership required on the field for those occasions, and thatís why Woolf will still be here next year. He hasnít changed much with the personnel, just the style. He thought it would play to our strengths, but ultimately itís been just the opposite. The pack is past its best but the three quarter line is as good as any in the country, but he never wants to use it.


    I donít think heís identified our key weaknesses at all. I think heís merely reinforcing his belief that we should try to win by merely trying to plough it down the central reservation.
    Excellent post DD it highlights the range of concerns and observations many of us also share. One thing I would add is that KW seems to select players whether they're playing well or not. He can't run an effective squad without players recognising that others will be rotated in as needs be. The main question though is that many of the players seem to be underperforming to a degree and I'd simply identify the coach & his tactics as the common denominator.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    It took me ten minutes of the season to take a dislike to the tactics.

    With Luke Thompson in the side we lost four games out of the opening seven fixtures. Since the departure of Thompson we have only lost three from thirteen, so I don’t really think we can blame the loss of Thompson too much, if at all.



    The problem in tough games has been the same throughout both Holbrook and Woolf. We haven’t a scrum half and leader who can guide us a round, employ a kicking game and keep the opponents in their own territory. You can get away with it in the mundane fixtures, but when the chips are down in close battles it’s that Ingredient X that gets you over the line. We will pretty much always come up short in the big match until we sign a decent No.7.


    Losing Percival was big, but I don’t understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasn’t scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.



    My gut feeling is that we’d have finished fourth if the season hadn’t been curtailed. There’s no way, we’d have finished top. That would have required Wigan to lose and us beating Catalans away plus Hull and Warrington at home. For me, Wigan would have lost none and we would quite likely have lost the first and third of our remaining games.


    There’s no way he will be sacked. It’s not worth discussing. He may guide us to the title next year, who knows, but I won’t be looking forward to watching it. His style of rugby bores me to tears.


    That is certainly one reason, with the other being the lack of quality and leadership in the halves, with no last set plays, no invention and a wholly one dimensional kicking game


    That’s it. We could possibly beat one of them, to beat both is beyond us. In fact, even under Holbrook, I don’t think we’d have won the Grand Final had we not played Salford. Much as we were a million times better to watch, the squad weaknesses were still there and we lacked the leadership required on the field for those occasions, and that’s why Woolf will still be here next year. He hasn’t changed much with the personnel, just the style. He thought it would play to our strengths, but ultimately it’s been just the opposite. The pack is past its best but the three quarter line is as good as any in the country, but he never wants to use it.


    I don’t think he’s identified our key weaknesses at all. I think he’s merely reinforcing his belief that we should try to win by merely trying to plough it down the central reservation.
    Quote Originally Posted by eddiewaringsflatcap View Post
    Agree with all of this. Said it before and will do again, Woolf thinks he is coaching Hull KR or Wakefield with an over reliance on conservatism to win the stats battle. That this can be done with the three quarter line that you mention seems to have escaped attention. As also mentioned those tactics can often come up short against teams that are well equipped on both sides of the ball like Warrignton. This should surprise no-one; we saw of Bradford several times at the turn of 2000 when the shoe was on the other foot.

    I recall Stevo saying at that time Bradford had no Plan B. Same could be said of Saints - how many people would ever back us to score outside our own half against a semi decent team? I'm ignoring broken play like Grace's try from kicks vs Leeds. The reality is we've become a score inside the 20 team.

    The only time they are consistently used is for the uber-boring, dour 'exit sets' where alternate wingers and sometimes the centre just run it one man in from tackles 2,3 and sometimes 4. Its the footballing equivalent of the long ball; I recall you mentioning RL fans rose tinted glasses when it comes to their opinion of our sport. I can honestly say it would be a hard sell to persuade any passive sporting fan that those tactics are great to watch.

    A point on your kicking game observation as well; lost count of the times Fages gets no 'hang time' on the ball from deep. Not only does it go straight to winger/full back, but watch how quickly it gets there. Gives less time to apply pressure / chase.

    Lets be honest and stop defending Woolf. He's inherited a team that won the League by 16 points and has benefited from JH's changes. Players like LMS, Taia and Amor still look like they've mileage in them. The current tactics are far removed from Saints culture and I fear we're just destined to come up wit the same hard luck stories in these play offs. Teams like Hull we should blast away but you can virtually guarantee it would be a close game as we'll employ exactly the same limited game plan that Hull FC have used for years. A borefest beckons.

    Two posts that have stated how I feel, but much more eloquently than I could.

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    The way we play under Woolf reminds me of the first few games of 2000 under Hanley. Start games strong, 5 drives and a kick, clueless in attack, slowly slip out of the contest. In 2000 we lost the WCC, then got beat in the cup at Leeds, then belted at home against Bradford despite a solid start to the game. Milward came in and overnight we played rugby the way a Saints team should do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishy3005 View Post
    Im not sure i buy into the loss of Thompson excuse for Woolf. We had a couple of dire performances under Woolf before Thompson left. Didnít we lose at home to Huddersfield, got nilled at Warrington and then trounced at Castleford??
    I think Thompson was already on Bondi Beach at the start of this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RV12 View Post
    Quite an interesting thread this. I think the talk of sacking Woolf is way wide of the mark. To an extent, he was dealt a rough hand with the early departure of Thompson. In 2017 and the first part of 2018, Holbrook adopted the approach of having one of Walmsley and Thompson on the bench and one starting.

    When Walmsley returned from injury in 2019, both he and Thompson started. Why? To blitz the opposition up the middle. Then Taia, Peyroux and Knowles would cause problems with wide runs. Then the likes of Coote and Lomax could cut open defences.

    The problem we had under Holbrook was when teams coped with us in the first 20 minutes (see Cup final against Wire), we struggled and could not open up defences. When teams couldnít cope with our pack at first, we tired them out, took advantage of the resulting defensive lapses and won (see play offs last year).

    Woolf has tried the same approach as Holbrook, far more than many of us acknowledge, but with Thompson leaving we have been firing on one cylinder. We have also been without Percival all year so lack strike out wide. You could tell the boost we had in the first 20 minutes of the cup game against Wire with Percy in the squad.

    This, combined with lockdown, self-isolation and changes in routine and training methods has meant it has been a hard season. Very few teams top the league in any meaningful competition in any sport three years on the run. We were within a whisker of it, and probably would have won if the structure hadnít been changed at the last second. Hardly a disaster.

    To sack Woolf would be very harsh and may even put off future coaches from joining us for fear of the trigger being pulled after, objectively, we have done well.

    Where you can criticise Woolf is his lack of adaptation. We have a huge over-reliance on Walmsley. If you nullify him, you nullify our whole attacking game. This is probably why we havenít beaten Wigan or Warrington this year (apart from Wiganís reserves).

    Our lack of big-game success over many years and poor record against the big teams this year concerns me. I struggle to see how we beat Warrington and Wigan in consecutive weeks. I wouldnít rule out us beating one, but beating both back-to-back is probably going to be beyond us. The big concern is we are playing dull rugby and it doesnít look to be putting us in the best position to win trophies (thatís not to say we wonít, just we arenít positioning ourselves as we all we could be). That is the worst of both worlds.

    What I do like about Woolf is that he seems to have identified the weaknesses and doesnít have his head in the sand like Cunningham did. He is taking steps to strengthen the pack next year with Joel Thompson and we are linked with some big, nasty NRL props.

    This is sensible recruitment as we already have plenty of strike in the back line, if we lay a platform for them. If we can restore a pack that can give them a platform, then I would hope to see a return to the more entertaining style we had under Holbrook.

    Woolfís contract has a one year option in our favour at the end of next year. If we continue with this style next year and continue to struggle against the best teams, it may be better to look at someone like Ian Watson or elsewhere. If Woolf can strengthen the pack and bring a bit more pleasing style as a result, then he will earn that extension. I think a wait and see approach is best for now.
    Great Post. Think you have pretty much hit the nail on the head there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    It took me ten minutes of the season to take a dislike to the tactics.

    With Luke Thompson in the side we lost four games out of the opening seven fixtures. Since the departure of Thompson we have only lost three from thirteen, so I don¬’t really think we can blame the loss of Thompson too much, if at all.
    With hindsight, I think my previous thoughts on the start to the season were simplistic. Injuries to Coote, Percival, Makinson, Walmsley and Roby combined with our focus on the World Club Challenge explained our slow start.

    Most champions for the past decade have started slowly due to an over focus on the World Club Challenge.

    We were particularly bad against Cas and we were lucky that the match against Leeds got postponed. Lockdown came at a good time for us.

    The problem in tough games has been the same throughout both Holbrook and Woolf. We haven¬’t a scrum half and leader who can guide us a round, employ a kicking game and keep the opponents in their own territory. You can get away with it in the mundane fixtures, but when the chips are down in close battles it¬’s that Ingredient X that gets you over the line. We will pretty much always come up short in the big match until we sign a decent No.7.
    I agree to an extent. But Warrington won the cup last year with Hughes and Patton as half backs. Traditionally, you do need good half backs to win consistently. Due to the standard of the league, I don't think that's necessary any more.

    When you look at the half backs of tile winning sides of recent years, a lot have been average at best. The likes of Moon, Fages, Leuluai, Smith, Flanagan. Some are average, some poor, some not even half backs.

    I think our bigger problem is composure. If something goes wrong, we panic. Although admittedly, that is where you look to your half backs and where ours are deficient.

    Losing Percival was big, but I don¬’t understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasn¬’t scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.
    Yep. The stat of Walmsley being our top try scorer for so long was worrying. We went through a spell of barely using Makinson under Holbrook. But now it's most of the backline. Especially Naiqama who has had a quiet year, but that's based on our play rather than being his fault.

    My gut feeling is that we¬’d have finished fourth if the season hadn¬’t been curtailed. There¬’s no way, we¬’d have finished top. That would have required Wigan to lose and us beating Catalans away plus Hull and Warrington at home. For me, Wigan would have lost none and we would quite likely have lost the first and third of our remaining games.
    We had a tough run in, no question. I'm not sure how it would have played out. I wouldn't have ruled out us playing the reserves against Wire if we had stuck with a top 4 system. Without crowds there was little advantage to finishing higher anyway.

    That¬’s it. We could possibly beat one of them, to beat both is beyond us. In fact, even under Holbrook, I don¬’t think we¬’d have won the Grand Final had we not played Salford. Much as we were a million times better to watch, the squad weaknesses were still there and we lacked the leadership required on the field for those occasions, and that¬’s why Woolf will still be here next year. He hasn¬’t changed much with the personnel, just the style. He thought it would play to our strengths, but ultimately it¬’s been just the opposite. The pack is past its best but the three quarter line is as good as any in the country, but he never wants to use it.
    I thought we showed far greater resolve in the play offs last year. Far more than I have seen for a long time. We seemed to learn how to play in those games and didn't panic when it took us time to break Salford.

    We were helped as Wigan and Wire were busted flushes and Salford massive underdogs. Sadly those lessons I thought we had learned have not continued into this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eddiewaringsflatcap View Post
    As also mentioned those tactics can often come up short against teams that are well equipped on both sides of the ball like Warrignton. This should surprise no-one; we saw of Bradford several times at the turn of 2000 when the shoe was on the other foot.

    I recall Stevo saying at that time Bradford had no Plan B. .
    I'll just talk about this point, because this is something that nobody has ever brought up before and rings true. It wasn't something that I'd ever even thought of.

    Obviously, the game has changed and RV12 has a valid point that the influence of the half back on the modern game isn't what it was. However, there was always a feeling that what gets you to the Final isn't what will necessarily win it, and that's especially true of a Grand Final system.

    If we go back through the years, there were league teams and there were cup teams and that's one of the reasons why I always thought the champions should be the team finishing top and the other competitions are for one-off specialists. The league and cup are two very different formulas, so to end the league with a cup competition when you've already got a cup competition never sat well with me. Having a big pack can allow you to win games against the ragamuffins without the fear of a shock, because you can just walk through them, whereas teams built around class could always lose to anyone should they not be on their game. However, when you come up against quality teams, then the forwards can't simply trample their way through, you need a bigger emphasis on quality. You need something extra.

    Back in the late 70s/early 80s, Bradford and Hull KR were league teams, consistently winning the most games and titles, but often lacking that bit of extra to win the big cup games. Widnes were the opposite; a cup team that rarely did well in the league. They lacked consistency, but they had the big game players, the quality halves and the leadership. They had the nerve for the big occasion and that was helped by having leaders such as Tony Myler and Andy Gregory, who could not only employ the winning tactics, but guide their team round the park. They were capable of holding their nerve when their opponents got a little dazzled in front of the headlights.

    This similar scenario was born out between 1999 and 2002 when Saints beat Bradford in five big matches. We had the likes of Goulding, Long, Martyn, Sculthorpe and Cunningham, all part of the spine, all leaders and all organisers. They thrived on the big occasion and they managed to get their fellow players to do so. Bradford were more consistent on a weekly basis, but they didn't have the big game halves that you need. I'd even argue that Henry Paul was a bit lacking in that department, and Paul Deacon was certainly a very average half compared to the Saints ones mentioned. That bit of class, guile, composure and leadership was the key.

    This recent Saints side has been miles better over the course of the seasons, but it hasn't faired well come the big games. Three times Warrington have done us and on each occasion composure has been key. They've had on the field leadership and their halves have dominated, not so much because their pack has been on top, but because the generals organised the troops, played a sensible kicking game and kept their patience. What's more they just had a little bit more craft and guile. Their kicks made us work and scramble. Our kicks were little more than fielding practise for the opposition.

    You look at what won us some of those games against Bradford (granted - a different era), but we had Goulding's bombs in 1996, a Tommy Martyn masterclass in 1997, two clever kicks on the last tackle in 2001, Long's composure in 2002. All of them had vital contributions from half backs and leaders that swung the game away from Bradford to us.

    If we look at Leeds over the years. They rarely finished top. They often had poor league campaigns, but when it came to the big stage, when the game changed to occasions that needed composure. guile and half back leadership, that's when they came into their element. They beat us in 2007 and 2008, despite having an inferior team, because they played the conditions. Their on field leadership and Rugby League intelligence beat us. Leeds were essentially a cup side and not a league one. Sure, they did lose a few Challenge Cup Finals, but they won far more big games than they lost, because they had McGuire, Burrow and Sinfield leading the way, guiding their team mates around, showing them the ropes.

    Wigan with Hastings, Leuluai and French, and Warrington with Auston, Widdop and Ratchford is what will win probably take both clubs to the Final and win it for one of them, not the forwards. They are all leaders. Only Coote out of our spine can be considered a leader of men and an organiser and executor of gameplans. Lomax is a player without a home to call his own, who never leads as a half back should, and Theo Fages is no half back, never has been and never will be. We got away with such things in 2014 against 12 men for 78 minutes (just) and against Salford. It's papered over the cracks and convinced the likes of Mike Rush that a great team can play without half back leadership, when the real thing that we should point to is that the most dominant side in weekly rounds in a generation has only one major trophy to show for it. Like the Bradford and Hull KR teams of the 1980s, this is a team designed for performing in the weekly round stage, as that's what forward based teams are geared up for. It's not really one that is designed for winning cup competitions. Unfortunately, dominating the league season doesn't count for much these days and hasn't for the last 22 years. A forward based plan might get you to the big stage, but it doesn't often win you the prize once you are on it.
    Last edited by DD; 10th November 2020 at 20:54.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    I'll just talk about this point, because this is something that nobody has ever brought up before and rings true. It wasn't something that I'd ever even thought of.

    Obviously, the game has changed and RV12 has a valid point that the influence of the half back on the modern game isn't what it was. However, there was always a feeling that what gets you to the Final isn't what will necessarily win it, and that's especially true of a Grand Final system.

    If we go back through the years, there were league teams and there were cup teams and that's one of the reasons why I always thought the champions should be the team finishing top and the other competitions are for one-off specialists. The league and cup are two very different formulas, so to end the league with a cup competition when you've already got a cup competition never sat well with me. Having a big pack can allow you to win games against the ragamuffins without the fear of a shock, because you can just walk through them, whereas teams built around class could always lose to anyone should they not be on their game. However, when you come up against quality teams, then the forwards can't simply trample their way through, you need a bigger emphasis on quality. You need something extra.

    Back in the late 70s/early 80s, Bradford and Hull KR were league teams, consistently winning the most games and titles, but often lacking that bit of extra to win the big cup games. Widnes were the opposite; a cup team that rarely did well in the league. They lacked consistency, but they had the big game players, the quality halves and the leadership. They had the nerve for the big occasion and that was helped by having leaders such as Tony Myler and Andy Gregory, who could not only employ the winning tactics, but guide their team round the park. They were capable of holding their nerve when their opponents got a little dazzled in front of the headlights.

    This similar scenario was born out between 1999 and 2002 when Saints beat Bradford in five big matches. We had the likes of Goulding, Long, Martyn, Sculthorpe and Cunningham, all part of the spine, all leaders and all organisers. They thrived on the big occasion and they managed to get their fellow players to do so. Bradford were more consistent on a weekly basis, but they didn't have the big game halves that you need. I'd even argue that Henry Paul was a bit lacking in that department, and Paul Deacon was certainly a very average half compared to the Saints ones mentioned. That bit of class, guile, composure and leadership was the key.

    This recent Saints side has been miles better over the course of the seasons, but it hasn't faired well come the big games. Three times Warrington have done us and on each occasion composure has been key. They've had on the field leadership and their halves have dominated, not so much because their pack has been on top, but because the generals organised the troops, played a sensible kicking game and kept their patience. What's more they just had a little bit more craft and guile. Their kicks made us work and scramble. Our kicks were little more than fielding practise for the opposition.

    You look at what won us some of those games against Bradford (granted - a different era), but we had Goulding's bombs in 1996, a Tommy Martyn masterclass in 1997, two clever kicks on the last tackle in 2001, Long's composure in 2002. All of them had vital contributions from half backs and leaders that swung the game away from Bradford to us.

    If we look at Leeds over the years. They rarely finished top. They often had poor league campaigns, but when it came to the big stage, when the game changed to occasions that needed guile and half back leadership, that's when they came into their element. Leeds were essentially a cup side and not a league one. Sure, they did lose a few Challenge Cup Finals, but they won far more big games than they lost, because they had McGuire, Burrow and Sinfield leading the way, guiding their team mates around, showing them the ropes.

    Wigan with Hastings, Leuluai and French, and Warrington with Auston, Widdop and Ratchford is what will win probably take both clubs to the Final and win it for one of them, not the forwards. They are all leaders. Only Coote out of our spine can be considered a leader of men and an organiser and executor of gameplans. Lomax is a player without a home to call his own, who never leads as a half back should, and Theo Fages is no half back, never has been and never will be. We got away with such things in 2014 against 12 men for 78 minutes (just) and against Salford. It's papered over the cracks and convinced the likes of Mike Rush that a great team can play without half back leadership, when the real thing that we should point to is that the most dominant side in weekly rounds in a generation has only one major trophy to show for it. Like the Bradford and Hull KR teams of the 1980s, this is a team designed for performing in the weekly round stage, as that's what forward based teams are geared up for. It's not really one that is designed for winning cup competitions. Unfortunately, dominating the league season doesn't count for much these days and hasn't for the last 22 years. A forward based plan might get you to the big stage, but it doesn't win you the prize once you are on it.
    Belter of a post, full of incite.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    I'll just talk about this point, because this is something that nobody has ever brought up before and rings true. It wasn't something that I'd ever even thought of.

    Obviously, the game has changed and RV12 has a valid point that the influence of the half back on the modern game isn't what it was. However, there was always a feeling that what gets you to the Final isn't what will necessarily win it, and that's especially true of a Grand Final system.

    If we go back through the years, there were league teams and there were cup teams and that's one of the reasons why I always thought the champions should be the team finishing top and the other competitions are for one-off specialists. The league and cup are two very different formulas, so to end the league with a cup competition when you've already got a cup competition never sat well with me. Having a big pack can allow you to win games against the ragamuffins without the fear of a shock, because you can just walk through them, whereas teams built around class could always lose to anyone should they not be on their game. However, when you come up against quality teams, then the forwards can't simply trample their way through, you need a bigger emphasis on quality. You need something extra.

    Back in the late 70s/early 80s, Bradford and Hull KR were league teams, consistently winning the most games and titles, but often lacking that bit of extra to win the big cup games. Widnes were the opposite; a cup team that rarely did well in the league. They lacked consistency, but they had the big game players, the quality halves and the leadership. They had the nerve for the big occasion and that was helped by having leaders such as Tony Myler and Andy Gregory, who could not only employ the winning tactics, but guide their team round the park. They were capable of holding their nerve when their opponents got a little dazzled in front of the headlights.

    This similar scenario was born out between 1999 and 2002 when Saints beat Bradford in five big matches. We had the likes of Goulding, Long, Martyn, Sculthorpe and Cunningham, all part of the spine, all leaders and all organisers. They thrived on the big occasion and they managed to get their fellow players to do so. Bradford were more consistent on a weekly basis, but they didn't have the big game halves that you need. I'd even argue that Henry Paul was a bit lacking in that department, and Paul Deacon was certainly a very average half compared to the Saints ones mentioned. That bit of class, guile, composure and leadership was the key.

    This recent Saints side has been miles better over the course of the seasons, but it hasn't faired well come the big games. Three times Warrington have done us and on each occasion composure has been key. They've had on the field leadership and their halves have dominated, not so much because their pack has been on top, but because the generals organised the troops, played a sensible kicking game and kept their patience. What's more they just had a little bit more craft and guile. Their kicks made us work and scramble. Our kicks were little more than fielding practise for the opposition.

    You look at what won us some of those games against Bradford (granted - a different era), but we had Goulding's bombs in 1996, a Tommy Martyn masterclass in 1997, two clever kicks on the last tackle in 2001, Long's composure in 2002. All of them had vital contributions from half backs and leaders that swung the game away from Bradford to us.

    If we look at Leeds over the years. They rarely finished top. They often had poor league campaigns, but when it came to the big stage, when the game changed to occasions that needed composure. guile and half back leadership, that's when they came into their element. They beat us in 2007 and 2008, despite having an inferior team, because they played the conditions. Their on field leadership and Rugby League intelligence beat us. Leeds were essentially a cup side and not a league one. Sure, they did lose a few Challenge Cup Finals, but they won far more big games than they lost, because they had McGuire, Burrow and Sinfield leading the way, guiding their team mates around, showing them the ropes.

    Wigan with Hastings, Leuluai and French, and Warrington with Auston, Widdop and Ratchford is what will win probably take both clubs to the Final and win it for one of them, not the forwards. They are all leaders. Only Coote out of our spine can be considered a leader of men and an organiser and executor of gameplans. Lomax is a player without a home to call his own, who never leads as a half back should, and Theo Fages is no half back, never has been and never will be. We got away with such things in 2014 against 12 men for 78 minutes (just) and against Salford. It's papered over the cracks and convinced the likes of Mike Rush that a great team can play without half back leadership, when the real thing that we should point to is that the most dominant side in weekly rounds in a generation has only one major trophy to show for it. Like the Bradford and Hull KR teams of the 1980s, this is a team designed for performing in the weekly round stage, as that's what forward based teams are geared up for. It's not really one that is designed for winning cup competitions. Unfortunately, dominating the league season doesn't count for much these days and hasn't for the last 22 years. A forward based plan might get you to the big stage, but it doesn't often win you the prize once you are on it.
    Great post with lots of facts that show how much we need a commanding HB and a kicking game.

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    Just to put some more context to those points raised. Add Oldham in the fifties. Swinton in the sixties and Salford in the seventies. great point about Lomax. Great player but not a leader. Fages a tough hombre, a Jeff Heaton type player but these two in combo, I'm with the poster. Well thought out piece, thank you.

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    Fantastic post DD. Agree with all of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Fridge View Post
    Wire will beat Hull comfortably. By 18 points at least
    How many Ralph lol! 😂

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferester123 View Post
    How many Ralph lol! ��
    Ah yes you found it.


    As I was last season, my play off predictions are hopeless. But I'll take it on the chin happily as no bet was put on.

    You'll never actually believe that I predicted the score of the CC final and got it before the game. Lucky I saved it in my phone so have proof too. Not on redvee though

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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    I'll just talk about this point, because this is something that nobody has ever brought up before and rings true. It wasn't something that I'd ever even thought of.

    Obviously, the game has changed and RV12 has a valid point that the influence of the half back on the modern game isn't what it was. However, there was always a feeling that what gets you to the Final isn't what will necessarily win it, and that's especially true of a Grand Final system.

    If we go back through the years, there were league teams and there were cup teams and that's one of the reasons why I always thought the champions should be the team finishing top and the other competitions are for one-off specialists. The league and cup are two very different formulas, so to end the league with a cup competition when you've already got a cup competition never sat well with me. Having a big pack can allow you to win games against the ragamuffins without the fear of a shock, because you can just walk through them, whereas teams built around class could always lose to anyone should they not be on their game. However, when you come up against quality teams, then the forwards can't simply trample their way through, you need a bigger emphasis on quality. You need something extra.

    Back in the late 70s/early 80s, Bradford and Hull KR were league teams, consistently winning the most games and titles, but often lacking that bit of extra to win the big cup games. Widnes were the opposite; a cup team that rarely did well in the league. They lacked consistency, but they had the big game players, the quality halves and the leadership. They had the nerve for the big occasion and that was helped by having leaders such as Tony Myler and Andy Gregory, who could not only employ the winning tactics, but guide their team round the park. They were capable of holding their nerve when their opponents got a little dazzled in front of the headlights.

    This similar scenario was born out between 1999 and 2002 when Saints beat Bradford in five big matches. We had the likes of Goulding, Long, Martyn, Sculthorpe and Cunningham, all part of the spine, all leaders and all organisers. They thrived on the big occasion and they managed to get their fellow players to do so. Bradford were more consistent on a weekly basis, but they didn't have the big game halves that you need. I'd even argue that Henry Paul was a bit lacking in that department, and Paul Deacon was certainly a very average half compared to the Saints ones mentioned. That bit of class, guile, composure and leadership was the key.

    This recent Saints side has been miles better over the course of the seasons, but it hasn't faired well come the big games. Three times Warrington have done us and on each occasion composure has been key. They've had on the field leadership and their halves have dominated, not so much because their pack has been on top, but because the generals organised the troops, played a sensible kicking game and kept their patience. What's more they just had a little bit more craft and guile. Their kicks made us work and scramble. Our kicks were little more than fielding practise for the opposition.

    You look at what won us some of those games against Bradford (granted - a different era), but we had Goulding's bombs in 1996, a Tommy Martyn masterclass in 1997, two clever kicks on the last tackle in 2001, Long's composure in 2002. All of them had vital contributions from half backs and leaders that swung the game away from Bradford to us.

    If we look at Leeds over the years. They rarely finished top. They often had poor league campaigns, but when it came to the big stage, when the game changed to occasions that needed composure. guile and half back leadership, that's when they came into their element. They beat us in 2007 and 2008, despite having an inferior team, because they played the conditions. Their on field leadership and Rugby League intelligence beat us. Leeds were essentially a cup side and not a league one. Sure, they did lose a few Challenge Cup Finals, but they won far more big games than they lost, because they had McGuire, Burrow and Sinfield leading the way, guiding their team mates around, showing them the ropes.

    Wigan with Hastings, Leuluai and French, and Warrington with Auston, Widdop and Ratchford is what will win probably take both clubs to the Final and win it for one of them, not the forwards. They are all leaders. Only Coote out of our spine can be considered a leader of men and an organiser and executor of gameplans. Lomax is a player without a home to call his own, who never leads as a half back should, and Theo Fages is no half back, never has been and never will be. We got away with such things in 2014 against 12 men for 78 minutes (just) and against Salford. It's papered over the cracks and convinced the likes of Mike Rush that a great team can play without half back leadership, when the real thing that we should point to is that the most dominant side in weekly rounds in a generation has only one major trophy to show for it. Like the Bradford and Hull KR teams of the 1980s, this is a team designed for performing in the weekly round stage, as that's what forward based teams are geared up for. It's not really one that is designed for winning cup competitions. Unfortunately, dominating the league season doesn't count for much these days and hasn't for the last 22 years. A forward based plan might get you to the big stage, but it doesn't often win you the prize once you are on it.
    Cracking post that (with the exception of the bit about Austin , Widdop and Ratchford taking Warrington to the final.)

    I have always thought unless you either have a top class scrum half or stand off the team no matter how good the rest of its players may well come up short in the big games when it matters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parrsaint View Post
    Cracking post that (with the exception of the bit about Austin , Widdop and Ratchford taking Warrington to the final.)

    I have always thought unless you either have a top class scrum half or stand off the team no matter how good the rest of its players may well come up short in the big games when it matters.
    You're right regarding a scrum half, I remember in 94/95 season after signing Bobbie Goulding thinking that's it that's the piece of the jigsaw we needed to kick on. We all rave about Longy and rightly so but I think it gets overlooked how good Goulding was, didn't he start all that cross field kick for the winger? I remember marvelling when Huntey scored off his kicks and all those times Martyn and Long combined with little kicks through well Tommy and Bobbie first did that, sometimes a reverse kick. Goulding could have gone on to break Kel Cosletts points record comfortably if he'd have stayed but whether he'd have the longevity of Longy (excuse the pun) I doubt, we had 12 great years from Long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parrsaint View Post
    Cracking post that (with the exception of the bit about Austin , Widdop and Ratchford taking Warrington to the final.)

    I have always thought unless you either have a top class scrum half or stand off the team no matter how good the rest of its players may well come up short in the big games when it matters.
    As we saw last night. Sneyd gave a masterclass performance yesterday.

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    It's a shame for Wire that the individual brilliance of Ratchford, Austin and Widdop was missing yesterday or they probably would've beaten Hull.
    Quote Originally Posted by Despondent Dave
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blobbynator View Post
    It's a shame for Wire that the individual brilliance of Ratchford, Austin and Widdop was missing yesterday or they probably would've beaten Hull.
    Austin gave a wonderful impression of the Invisible Man, Ratchford made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. I always fancied Hull, as they have the ability to put in one off performances of tenacity and quality (let's hope they can do it two weeks running!). This is the nonsense of having six teams in the play offs. No point in putting on a decent show for fans throughout the season if you can sneak in to the top six and win the GF.

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    [QUOTE=DD;805620]

    Losing Percival was big, but I don¬’t understand our policy of never utilising either centre. The difference in style can be seen by the fact that the prop forwards have scored more tries than the centres and the halves. The back line only gets used when the opponents give the wingers the ball. There has been no service from the halves all year, and little creativity. If you exclude the nullified Toronto match, Jonny Lomax hasn¬’t scored a single try in the league all season. Theo Fages has scored the same amount of tries all season than Luke Thompson did in seven games. Kev Naiqama and Tommy Makinson only two more, whilst Alex Walmsley is our second highest try scorer on ten.


    I agree with you about the style of play being more negative. However to state there has been no service from the halves all year when the team has scored the most tries and Lomax has registered the most assists in the league is something I find baffling. I feel for some of the lads because if you are not in vogue you will be slaughtered by some on here, whilst if you are in vogue errors and weaknesses are ignored. Some have stated coote is less involved out the back as the third pivot and put this down to coaching rather than criticise him since he is not one of the current whipping boys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prez View Post
    Austin gave a wonderful impression of the Invisible Man, Ratchford made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. I always fancied Hull, as they have the ability to put in one off performances of tenacity and quality (let's hope they can do it two weeks running!). This is the nonsense of having six teams in the play offs. No point in putting on a decent show for fans throughout the season if you can sneak in to the top six and win the GF.
    I thought Hull could do it. A big team with a bit of pace and a good HB getting up for one big game, it was always on. I did agree about the top 6 as well, but after watching Wire get handed their ar**s maybe it's not too bad.

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