They have 263 NRL games between them, but the experience of Moses Mbye and Luke Brooks did not mean much on Friday night as the pair put pressure on debutant Reece Hoffman.
“Poor Reece Hoffman,” said Fox League commentator Michael Ennis as the Rabbitohs raced in their fourth test of the night on the dismal left side of the Wests, finishing 18-10 winners.
In his first game in the top category, Hoffman would have turned to Mbye and Brooks to guide him in defense.
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But Ennis said communication between the trio seemed nonexistent, comparing tests conceded on the left side to games similar to the Rabbitohs during training at Redfern Oval.
The four South Sydney tries fell to the left edge of the Tigers.
Although Mbye may have freshman experience, trainer Michael Maguire may have a selection headache ahead if young Tommy Talau pistol is ready to be selected next week.
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Mbye ran for 45 yards with a tackle bust in the 18-10 defeat.
Talau, meanwhile, has averaged 121 yards and has seven tackle busts from his first three appearances this year.
After making an example of Benji Marshall for his poor defense earlier in the season, Brooks could also be on the block as Maguire seeks to improve standards.
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The Tigers’ coach has consistently stressed the need for the team to find consistency, but the consecutive losses have left them outside the top eight and the left edge was only to blame on Friday.
Fox League expert Braith Anasta called him “evil” and it’s hard to argue with him if you look at the four trials conceded in the left channel.
The first attempt came after the Rabbitohs stripped the Tigers for the number and Mbye had signed up for James Roberts.
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Instead, the ball goes behind to Cody Walker who is sweeping, leaving Hoffman isolated and forced to make a call.
It remains on Walker who simply took advantage of the overlap of two against one to put Gagai above.
“They just targeted Moses Mbye who came in, Hoffman too,” said Ennis.
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“Cook’s long pass allowed Reynolds to come in. For Luke Brooks who turned around, Mbye too, Hoffman couldn’t get in. Just a bit hesitant about the rookie.”
Then South Sydney took advantage once again of the Tigers’ undecided left edge defense as Mbye rushed for Latrell Mitchell.
Whenever a defender agrees to rush out of the line, the focus must be on closing his man, but in this case, Mbye fails the tackle attempt at Mitchell.
The back of the Rabbitohs then looped a long ball over Gagai which pocketed a double in the first half.
“Look at Latrell over there,” said Ennis.
“Seeing his body position, being able to change into the air has just let Mbye hold on to nothing. It was special from Latrell. “
“Once again, the Tigers’ left defense was exposed and Mbye fell from the tackle,” added Dan Ginnane.
Ennis said bad defensive readings were signs of a lack of communication that turned out to be a major problem with Hoffman at first.
“They have real challenges on the left side, the Tigers,” said Ennis.
“You can see players holding back, some rushing. It doesn’t seem like there is a lot of communication there. “
Thinking the ball was going to Mitchell again, Mbye rushed once more to try to push the full back at the start of the second half.
This time the ball is cut to Roberts who walks away to score.
“They have a night of horror on the left side,” said Ennis.
“Mbye had blinders for Latrell Mitchell. He knew he had fresh air in the first half when Dane Gagai scored his second try.
“He knew he had to get out of the line but Reynolds’ ball was all class.”
And on the last test of the night, it was clear that nothing was going well on the left side, Ennis comparing it to a training race.
“It seems like there is a complete breakdown in communication on the left edge for the Wests Tigers,” he said.
“Moses Mbye caught up with Luke Brooks – I don’t know where he was going. Poor old Reece Hoffman at first.
“Look at Luke Brooks over there, just a crawling indoor field put young Hoffman and Mbye under enormous pressure.
“It’s a training race – it’s something of a Wednesday night session at Redfern, too easy.”