Ben Hunt has copped some heat over his form for the Dragons in their loss to South Sydney on Friday night at ANZ Stadium. Picture: Brett Costello
Ben Hunt has copped some heat over his form for the Dragons in their loss to South Sydney on Friday night at ANZ Stadium. Picture: Brett Costello

Gould torches ‘unprofessional’ Hunt after heartbreaking loss

PHIL Gould has put the blowtorch on Ben Hunt after St George Illawarra's heartbreaking 20-16 loss to South Sydney on Friday night at ANZ Stadium.

The Dragons had victory stolen from them in the final seconds of the game when Rabbitohs winger Campbell Graham dived over in the corner to seal a heart-stopping win.

That scenario appeared inconceivable less than 20 minutes beforehand with the Rabbitohs cruising with a 14-2 lead and the Dragons giving themselves little to no chance with a large error and penalty count.

But two tries to debutant winger Jason Saab and flawless goalkicking from returning skipper Gareth Widdop gave the Dragons a two-point lead with one minute remaining - only for them to get pipped at the death.

Hunt came back into the St George-Illawarra side after being rested last week when the Dragons played  Penrith.

Given the Dragons' 14th spot on the ladder there was plenty of heat put on both Hunt and coach Paul McGregor over  that decision, and Gould reckoned the marquee playmaker didn't deliver on his return.

"I thought there were some really unprofessional things from him tonight," Gould told Channel 9.

"There was some poor kicking. I thought he had the wrong boots on - he was slipping a sliding all over.

"They needed him at different times. He came up with a poor effort there, he came up with poor misses in defence.

Ben Hunt had a try disallowed due to a double movement.
Ben Hunt had a try disallowed due to a double movement.

"They rested him last week at a very important time in their season. He opted to take the rest after the Origin series. He needed to come back full of energy tonight and I don't think he did it."

Legendary Parramatta playmaker Peter Sterling echoed Gould's sentiments.

"The thing I didn't like about him game on the back of those mistakes, he went blindside and kicked stones for a while there," Sterling said.

"He wasn't straight back into the play and energetic. He went back and he got out of the game."

Gould added: "I can't imagine their highest-paid player, even after Origin, saying 'I'll take a week off' - at that stage of the year, with your team having won two from 11."

Hunt finished with 84m (from six runs), three tackle busts, three offloads, one linebreak, 21 tackles, two errors, two missed tackles and one penalty. He also took the majority of the kicking duties, returning 264 kick metres from nine kicks.

He went close to scoring on one occasion but  was penalised for a double movement, and an error before a poor defensive read led to a Cody Walker try.

"It was probably mixed," McGregor said of Hunt's performance.

"He did some good things, but that error and the no-try and the missed tackle sort of hurt a little bit.

"There are other things in his game he did quite well.

"When everyone's playing with a lack of confidence, those things can happen."

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