SYDNEY ROOSTERS 38 (D Tupou 2 M Kennedy S Kenny-Dowall A Minichiello R Tuivasa-Sheck tries J Maloney 7 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 24 (J Hayne J Mullaney K Sio P Terepo tries C Sandow 4 goals).
Crowd: 12,135 at Parramatta Stadium.
Last year Roosters fans are swinging from chandeliers after a win like this, but 2013 is a different year and expectations haven’t been this great since 2004.
So you know its a good year when you can have terrible 14 point wins, and that’s exactly what this was: terrible, mixed with a hint of disappointment and a dash of out-enthused.
For what it’s worth, this writer hates recipe analogies. They’re a cliché, lazy as hell and just terrible writing. At any rate, the win against the Eels was as good as the recipe analogy.
The Roosters won this game through no fault of their own, often outworked and largely out-muscled through the middle, while being unable to shut down a backup fullback or the front row of a team which had just been told half of them wouldn’t be there next year.
They won through the sheer weight of talent in their favour, and even with three players backing up should have been up by more than just two points with nine minutes to go. If the Roosters could have matched the Eels’ intensity it would have been over at halftime — and it almost was despite themselves.
Man of the Match.
Hows that for a shit pun? Anyone care to make that into a sign?
The Roosters have the two best young wingers in the world, hands down. And with Daniel Tupou having learned how to stand deep off Jenko the sky is the limit for this young weapon.
He scored a great try thanks to a pinpoint kick from James Maloney, and that goose step and speed to score the Roosters’ final try in the second half was exhilarating.
Not only that, he’s using his upper body strength to get easy metres out of their own half and defensively he doesn’t let anything in.
Needless to say he’ll keep his spot when Tautau Moga returns, which means that SKD could be under a bit of pressure to hold his place in first grade.
He ran it nine times for 106 metres with six tackle busts and a line break, and was money under the high ball in defence. It’s very rare for a winger to get a MotM award but Tupou has been close a few times this year.
We’ve said it here before and we’ll say it again: he’s Israel Folau with skills.
2005 Mininchiello returns for a cameo.
Anthony Minichiello, along with Michael Jennings and Martin Kennedy, was just behind Tupou for man of the match in his best game of the season.
The Count blundered near the end when he ran it on the fifth, gifting the team another set of six when a kick should have been taken, but that couldn’t overshadow his best running game since his halcyon days.
Every run he made had punch, and positionally again he was superb. He also saved their arse when he raced 70 metres to score, and although he made his standard two errors, he had 15 runs for 206 metres with seven tackle busts and a line break.
Marty Kennedy also had his best game in two years with a huge 12 runs for 163 metres in just 44 minutes of action.
Right side defence and ball movement the Achilles heel.
The Roosters have now conceded five tries on the right side of the posts in two matches, and the maths on how many that is for the season will have to be done once this writer shakes the flu.
The first two tries to the Eels were a combination of poor reads and shirt-grabbing — Shaun Kenny-Dowall the culprit on both occasions as he helped when help wasn’t required, and followed that up with a lazy grab on an impressive Jake Mullaney. SKD has improved his defensive reads this year, but his play on Friday was lacklustre at best. He plays down to the opposition it seems more than any of his teammates and that miss on Mullaney was woeful — one of six misses on the night from a player well rested after the week off.
But the big reason the Roosters were under pressure was the constant ball movement from the Eels. When an awkward attack comes up against the systemic Roosters defence, the attack is seemingly winning more often than not. The Dragons scored two late tries in the ANZAC Day clash through simply keeping the ball alive, and the Eels found was through the defence through second-phase ball running and ad-lib footy.
This bodes well for when we next come up against the Warriors.
Wait, that’s this week?
Backing up from Origin.
We can’t even pretend to imagine what it’s like to play twice in 72 hours, when one of those games was an Origin match. Which makes what Jennings did out there a sight to behold.
He had no right running it 16 times for 159 metres and making nine tackles without a miss, let along setting up a try. He was superb as were MP7 and the BBQ, who despite their defence — combining to miss 11 tackles — were both great with the boot (generally) and Mitch continued his good form directing the team around without dominating.
The Roosters did come out on fire and tail off, but these three players could not be blamed for that.
And poor Mitch: he comes off defending the likes of Sam Thaiday and coming out on top, only to be bumped off three times in as many attempts by Peni Terepo.
The back row needs to step up.
Boyd Cordner and Sonny Bill combined should not have only 14 more metres made than Jennings after an Origin bout, but that’s exactly how they performed, combining for just 173 metres from 20 runs.
Poor Jenko just came off scoring one of the best tries in Origin history only to have to do much of the grunt work on the fringes, while Sonny Bill again failed to make 100 metres for the second straight game.
This writer hassaid before that SBW shouldn’t be judged by whether he has a big workrate — he has been given free reign to pick his spots in attack and has done so to huge results this year. But when his touch is less than Midas he needs to get into the tough stuff to make things happen, and in this game he didn’t do enough of it.
He had some great runs but there simply weren’t enough of them, while Kennedy, Luke O’Donnell, a centre backing up from Origin and a 32-year-old fullback with a fused spine did the majority of the metre-making.
When the golden play isn’t on, he needs to find a way to still be effective. That’s what made his game against the Cowboys so damn good: he ran it 19 times and got the team moving forward, rather than waiting to see a gap which never eventuated.
He doesn’t need the winning play to be effective, and sometimes the best recourse is to revert to a running game which is the envy of every second-rower in the world.
We lost another penalty count.
I can’t even blame the referees for this one. Jake Friend gave away three cheapies and none of the decisions were crucial. The Roosters were simply lazy and gave the refs no choice most of the time.
But whatever. We need to expect to lose the penalty count now and hope that we win through an abundance of talent and some timely plays — all of which are the only reason we won on Friday night.
Stats per the Sydney Morning Herald (click to enlarge):