AAP Rugby

Cook still work in progress: Bennett

By AAP Newswire

A match-saving tackle by Damien Cook appeared to cap a masterclass from the South Sydney hooker.

But Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett warned Cook was still a "work in progress" after the livewire rake inspired a pulsating 22-20 NRL win over Brisbane on Friday night.

Cook racked up plenty of highlights in the Suncorp Stadium clash, having a hand in two tries before crashing over himself in the 64th minute during a second half blitz.

However, Cook saved his best until last, pulling off a stunning tackle on a try-bound Corey Oates at the death to deny the Broncos a comeback victory.

It seemed Cook couldn't do much more to press his claims as one of the NRL's premier rakes.

Yet Bennett believed there was improvement left in his wiley No.9, in an ominous warning to rivals ahead of the NRL finals.

"He is unique in his skill set. I don't think any of them can do the things he can but he is still a work in progress," Bennett said.

"Take away his running game, I thought his work around the ball was very good because he brought other players into the game which he hasn't always done.

"That is his great strength. If he can bring the other players into the game it will give him more opportunities.

"He got his middles engaged and he got the opportunities from the work they were doing."

Cook tormented the Broncos defence from the outset before combining with John Sutton and Cody Walker to send Dane Gagai over in the 24th minute on Friday night.

Another Cook break resulted in Walker crashing over in the 61st minute before the Rabbitohs No.9 nabbed one for himself just moments later.

Remarkably Cook's heroics had sparked a 14-point run in just five minutes.

It was a hard act to follow.

Yet Cook somehow outdid himself in the dying minutes amid a Broncos fightback, this time at the other end of the field.

After a Joe Ofahengaue one-on-one strip on Gagai, Brisbane were given one more roll of the dice to snatch victory and appeared to hit the jackpot with gangly winger Oates appearing try-bound.

Enter Cook, who somehow chopped the Broncos flyer down metres from the line despite being half Oates' size.

"I thought Damien Cook was the difference," Broncos coach Anthony Seibold said.

"Three line breaks came off Cooky and there was a fantastic tackle right at the death.

"That's why he is the Aussie hooker at the moment. He's electric out there."