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Anthony Seibold's classy act as Souths and Dragons flop again: Good, bad, ugly of NRL round 3

Jason Demetriou and Shane Flanagan are facing some difficult times in the NRL.

😃 The good: Anthony Siebold's measured response to NRL controversy

😔 The bad: South Sydney's woes show no signs of slowing down

😡 The ugly: Dragons' capitulation after promising start

Manly coach refused to blame referees for loss

Manly not only have a good coach in Anthony Seibold, they’ve got a quality bloke. Seibs would have been within his right to do his block over some of the decisions made against his side as Parramatta came from behind to snatch a four-point win in a thriller at CommBank on Sunday.

The big talking point was the no try to Manly's Tolu Koula for a very tough obstruction call against Jake Trbojevic late in the second half. Phil Gould almost used up his season quota of "No, no, no, no, no's" as he told viewers Parramatta defender Luca Moretti had instigated contact with Trbojevic and milked it for its life.

Anthony Seibold, Jason Demetriou and Shane Flanagan, pictured here in the NRL.
Anthony Seibold had a classy response to the NRL furore, while Jason Demetriou and Shane Flanagan are in a difficult spot. Image: Getty/Fox League

Moretti had more chance of winning the Golden Slipper than making the tackle he was apparently denied. To the strict letter of the law it was probably right, but it sure didn’t sit right with most fans and commentators.

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Trailing 28-16 at the time, it was a real momentum killer for Manly. Seibold, though, took it and many other 50-50 calls on the chin when others would have blown a gasket.

Asked if it was a tough result to swallow given the circumstances, Seibold replied: "It’s not a tough one to take. It was a good game of footy."

Seibold believed the "management of the game changed a little bit" after the Sea Eagles had raced to a 14-0 lead, but was not about to throw the match officials under a bus. "The referees do their best, right? I'm not going to be critical," he said. We don’t reckon too many other coaches would have been as complimentary.

South Sydney's embarrassing display against Roosters

I don't think they're going to hand me a Walkley award anytime soon for stating a losing football team is not a happy football team. But Souths have had a stench about them long before this season's disastrous start.

The rot set in during the second half of last year and no amount of stain remover over summer has improved things. The embarrassing loss to the Roosters on Friday night was their 12th defeat in their last 19 games.

Another L against the Bulldogs on Good Friday and Souths' season is officially on life support - and we won't even be into April. The Rabbitohs still don't know who their first-choice halfback is, Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker are not having the impact expected of elite players and Damien Cook has gone from the world's leading hooker to a standard No.9.

Latrell Mitchell.
Latrell Mitchell and the Rabbitohs are in dire trouble. (Cameron Spencer via Getty Images)

As premiership-winning ex-Sharks skipper Wade Graham said over the weekend: "The things that got them into trouble with their footy in the back in the last season during their slide are still prevalent today. They’ve lost a lot of confidence. After that first try (on Friday night), it was noticeable how quickly some heads dropped. You can almost tell straight away that there was that feeling in the team 'Oh, no, here we go again'."

Convincing a beaten-up team they still have it in them to mount a resurrection and plotting a way out is the job of the coach. We're about to find out whether Jason Demetriou is that coach.

Dragons crash back to earth with two big losses

St George Illawarra attracted a lot of headlines before a ball was kicked this year. No other club had as many redemption stories written about them than the Dragons.

We heard how premiership-winning coach Shane Flanagan and his uncompromising ways would add steel, tenacity and resilience to a roster down on self-belief. He promised things would change at the Red V, with 2024 a big stepping stone for an even bigger 2025.

And, after one round, he had convinced a few of the non-believers. “I was sitting back quite happy that people were tipping us to come last because it won’t happen,” Flanagan said after the Dragons put Gold Coast to the sword.

“It’s been a really good pre-season and the players have worked their butts off… especially defensively. The way I want to play the game they needed to be fitter, faster, stronger and they’ve worked really hard so credit to them and credit to the staff."

Ben Hunt and Dragons players.
Ben Hunt and the Dragons have fallen away fast. (Jason McCawley via Getty Images)

Beating the Titans – as good as that performance was – has not proved to be a great measuring stick given the Titans' dreadful start. The Dragons have been belted by the Dolphins and Cowboys since then, coughing up 84 points in the process.

Up 18-4 against the Cows after 20 minutes, the Dragons went to the sheds four points behind before it really fell apart after the break. The heavy loss only re-affirms how big a resurrection job Flanagan faces.

Check back in every Monday throughout the NRL season for Adam Lucius' 'Good, Bad and Ugly' column.