A frosty Souths coach Jason Demetriou took exception to the suggestion Lachlan Ilias was responsible for a crucial try near halftime in the Rabbitohs’ 32-12 preliminary final loss.
Souths led 12-6 with a chance to go for a field goal, but Ilias went wide and Campbell Graham spilt a pass form Latrell Mitchell, allowing Brian To’o to run away and score to lock up the scores in a crucial moment.
However, a frustrated Demetriou refused to put blame on Ilias for not directing the play up the middle of the field to push for a field goal that would have made it 13-7 at the break.
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“Come on Mate, I don’t think it is up to a halfback in his rookie season to own that moment,” Demetriou said.
“Campbell Graham has got to catch the ball first and foremost. I am not going to sit here and put it on a halfback.
“At 12-6 we probably should have looked for the one-point set and even in the coach’s box we were thinking about going for the try or going for the one point so there was two thoughts there.
“But if Campbell catches it we are not having the conversation. If we made the tackle we are not having the conversation. We had two players there to make the tackle and we don’t make it, so there was opportunities there.”
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“I thought Lachy (Ilias) was outstanding again tonight. I was really proud of his season and there is a few boys in that team there tonight that are going to be so much better for it come next season.”
Demtriou was proud of Souths’ effort, but conceded his side had too many players sidelined to match it with the defending premiers for 80 minutes and commended Penrith for their classy and ruthless performance.
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“It is probably the story of our year we just ran out of troops in the end,” Demetriou said.
“To get these guys in a prelim you need to be fit and healthy and have your best 17 available.
“It is not an excuse, it is just the reality of how hard they are to beat. We came here with optimism and we were 12-0 up and I was optimistic.
“The competitor in me wants to hate Penrith, I really do.
“But the coach in me is so respectful of what they do.
“It is a credit to Ivan and their club and what they have been able to produce for the last few years.
“They are the benchmark and they are going to have to be tough next week.”