REVIEW: Warriors 23, Roosters 12. It’s officially a slump.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 23 (Taylor Laumape Fisiiahi Vatuvei tries, Mateo 2 Johnson goals, Johnson field goal) bt SYDNEY ROOSTERS 12 (Minichiello Williams tries, Maloney 2 goals).

Crowd: 11,040 at Allianz Stadium.

Game Summary.


One of the best races of the year: Johnson versus Jenko.

Speed kills, and the Warriors showed an abundance of it for their fourth straight win. Our fastest player was gunned down by a halfback (left), The Fish flew for another and the only player chasing Manu Vatuvei for the nail in the coffin was Frank-Paul Nu’uasala.

When you combine playing a team that possesses breathtaking speed, with appalling refereeing — again — and an innate ability to bomb tries, there simply is no way the Roosters were going to win this one.

Even then, the Roosters could have been leading had Shaun Kenny-Dowall learned how to respect the ball and had the referees been semi-decent. But full credit needs to go to an in-form New Zealand squad that may have just figured out how to win on the back of some remarkable scrambling defence and speed the envy of most clubs in the NRL.

It’s officially a slump for the Roosters. They’ve lost two of three and their defence has looked positively Parramatta-esque, with more holes than this guy:

Source: Weird Universe.

Source: Weird Universe.

The Roosters need to forget this one and move onto next week — when they’ll play a near full-strength Bulldogs squad while missing three players to Origin and with one of their backups — Samisoni Langi — in doubt through injury.


Man of the Match.

Source: ABC.

Source: ABC.

For the Roosters at least, it was Sonny-Bill, whose first half was as good as it gets. His performance just shades a brilliant return game from Sam Moa and the best game from Frank-Paul since Roosters-Tigers in the corresponding round last year — June 17 to be precise. That’s 364 days between drinks for FPN.

But back to SBW. He was in everything in the first half and was the man most likely for the Roosters. He broke the line twice, scored once and threw some wonderful offloads to ignite an often stagnant attack.

He finally cracked the 100m mark for the first time in three games, and looked as good as he has all year. He was unable to get much going in the second half, save for starting the eventually-bombed SKD try with some quick hands out wide.

He returned to form at least, with 11 runs for 127 metres, two line breaks, a try, four offloads, 20 tackles, no penalties and no errors.

FPN was huge with 12 runs for 139 metres and a line-break assist, putting SBW through for one of many eventual bombed chances and at least trying to chase Vatuvei in desperation before the winger predictably won out. Why is this performance not the status quo for the talented forward?

More Moa. Please. 

Source: Daily Telegraph.

Sammy Moa proved in limited minutes off the bench just how important both he and JWH are to the effectiveness of this squad. They are simply a better team for having these guys in, and the team lifted with every one of his runs when he came on.

He had 10 runs for 117 metres, including that incredible line break and one “Fuck You I’m Sam Moa” sidestep i.e. running straight over the fullback to put the support over.

His ability to bend a team backwards has been sorely missed, and as valiantly as Luke O’Donnell has performed in his absence he just doesn’t strike fear into a defence the way the fearless Moa does.

He is error free and no-frills, and doesn’t give a shit about the damage he does to himself or the defence when he takes it up as everyone saw and heard in that brutal collision with Jacob Lillyman in the second half. He also has speed that no-one knew he had when he ran through of a flat start for that break. Where we’d be without him in this one is evidenced by the lack of punch the Chooks had when he has been out, and when he was off in this one. It was a brilliant effort in a return from injury for the Lawn Moa.

When offside isn’t offside.

The refereeing performances are so regularly poor in Roosters games it’s becoming boring and predictable, and the first half in this one was particularly pathetic: New Zealand were repeatedly offside, and it was blatantly obvious to anyone who wasn’t wearing a pink shirt.

One of the Warriors’ players just flat-out dropped it while tackled just prior to the Fisiiahi no-try, with the referees apparently not able to see what 11,000 people saw — the ball on the fucking ground, that is.

Mini is as un-vocal a captain as there is, and even he had to sprint in from fullback to ask the question on a number of occasions, including just after Aubo was tackled without the ball with a half-break begging. SBW was also taken out after putting a kick through off a charge down — no call again.

Shaun Johnson must’ve come close to being sin-binned for holding down Jenko for an extra couple of seconds, and I can only guestimate that if that was a Rooster he’d be half-way to an early Gatorade. Other teams are easily holding down that second longer in general tackles, while Roosters players never get the benefit of the doubt on loose carries from the opposing team. It’s always a strip, and that’s it. This is the norm, my friends, so we have to just lump it and hope the tide turns at some stage.

But whatever. The Roosters ultimately lost this through dumb errors, an inability to finish off chances and a few piss-poor performances from key personnel. The refereeing did not help one bit though.

Bombed chances.

We’ll talk about SKD’s try in a tick, but the Mini forward pass was just as bad. All he had to do was look right instead of left for an unmarked Pearce; all he had to do was zig right instead of zag left, back into a waiting defence.

Zigged when he should have zagged. Unmarked MP7 is just to his right.

Zigged when he should’ve zagged. An unmarked MP7 is just to Mini’s right.

The Roosters amazingly had three straight sets of six — this never, ever happens — but were unable to capitalise each time. Their fifth tackle options were poor at best, especially the set that led to the Vatuvei try.

Sometimes the Roosters lack runners for ball players, which is amazing when you consider the ball players they have. They are officially in a slump, perhaps partly due to Origin taking them out of their flow, perhaps due to their front row being out, but mostly it comes down to an inability to capitalise on every chance they create. The Roosters have bombed chance after chance this year — the Sheck breaks against the Dogs and Sea Eagles, two in this one, a few chances earlier in the year when Tupou wasn’t deep enough off Jenko, the list goes on.

The Chooks are equal tops in the league with the Rabbits on 60 line breaks, but have scored just 49 tries — tries which include burrowing efforts from front rowers such as O’Donnell, JWH and Kennedy.

The Rabbits have scored 52 times off their line breaks.

In this game they made five breaks and scored just twice. For a team this lethal across the park, scoring just 12 points in a match is unforgivable, and more than any other reason is why they lost this one.

SKD. A sympathetic figure.

This writer feels for the guy now. Source: SMH.

Like everyone else at the game, this writer was not the least bit surprised by the Shaun Kenny-Dowall “bombed try for the ages”, when he broke through, stepped and became the victim of his own predictable loose carry when he had it stripped like a piece of skin off a Buffalo Bill victim.

And just like Buffalo Bill’s victims, SKD’s confidence and the fans’ trust in him is at the bottom of a well in a basement — consigned to its fate and unlikely to get out unless something drastic happens, like the Roosters working with Hannibal Lecter to analyse the psyche of the enigma in number four.

He has the opposite of the Midas Touch, whatever that is — everything he’s touching at the moment turns to crud even though you can see in this game he was trying his arse off to get back to basics: running direct, marking up in defence and playing steady. Those basics apparently don’t include holding the ball like it’s your baby rather than dangling it like a piñata for any fullback with a brain to whack.

He was terrible defensively last week and despite a strong first half when he ran direct and made easy metres, he effectively lost the game when he failed to win it. He just had to go wide or cradle it with the line begging but got fancy and paid the ultimate price. He also wasn’t given much to work with when MP7 threw him the ball poorly on the fifth tackle with six minutes to go, but the kick he put in was woeful and predictably went straight to Manu Vatuvei who raced away.

But strangely, rather than being angry (even though there was some boiling blood), this writer’s heart sank a little bit for SKD after that kick. You knew straight away that he’d get crucified on Twitter and in forums — and on 26 Rounds — and you can hardly blame that reaction from fans perplexed by his play in recent years. There’s rumours flying around that the club is looking to offload him — but ironically, thanks to his poor play, he’s becoming impossible to offload.

More than anything, this writer feels sorry for the kid. It’s an uphill battle into a strong breeze for him at present and he’s copping it from every corner. He’s only human and the barbs have to hurt. His confidence has to be at rock bottom right now and he needs a break from the pressure from the fans who are expecting more. 

Move Mitch Aubusson to the centres, or recall Michael Oldfield, and give SKD the opportunity to rebuild his shattered mental state in the reserves. Because the Roosters cannot win with him playing the way he is at the moment — and the kid can’t take much more of the battering he’s getting right now.

Stats per the Sydney Morning Herald (click to enlarge):

Stats Attack Defence


4 responses to “REVIEW: Warriors 23, Roosters 12. It’s officially a slump.

  1. While sitting in the stands I actually found myself laughing at the refereeing decisions in this game. Yet at the same time feeling a deep sadness for a Roosters team that continues to turn out week after week with the slim hope they might get their fair share of calls and some impartiality. I counted a total of 14 occasions in the first half alone where the Warriors could have been penalised for being inside the 7 let alone the 10. In fact does anybody realise that not a single penalty was blown for offside against either side all night?
    Today it is demonstrated yet again just how incompetent ‘officialdom’ has become: the announcement that the MRC is to conduct an investigation into itself regarding Reynolds ‘conning’ referees into what became the match winning penalty last round. Sure it was a bad call, but that’s it, nothing more, and not within a whiff of the debacle we saw in last nights one sided refereeing performance. Likewise, the knock forwards, accidental offside, a foot into touch are all bad calls and can go either way in a game. But please tell me the last game when neither side was caught offside even just once.
    On a brighter note my admiration goes to SKD for responding so positively to the rumour and innuendo of recent weeks and what must be the enormous pressure he must be feeling. The loose carry unfortunately only reflects his poor technique and not necessarily any lack-lustre attitude some will have you believe. Moa on the other hand put in a first class performance and with little in the way of any 10m decided he will just bend them back 16m instead with some devastating runs. The best Rooster’s plays happen to come off the back of his runs and the desperately needed separation between the teams he provided.
    But where to from here? I’d hate to see a siege mentality develop at our club in an attempt to offset referees bias. As a captain Mini has been disappointing in making any official stand but not for a minute do I condone adopting a J.Lyon approach of employing on field tactics and attempts at intimidation. Perhaps it’s time for the club itself to step up. Consecutive $10,000 fines for being outspoken with the truth might be money well spent in this case. Perhaps other clubs too might back their stand. Arbitration and consultation is doomed to failure when one party insists on seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and speaking no evil.


    • Mate, I look forward to your comments for every article posted. I think your point on SKD is pertinent: he is certainly trying his arse off and its that simple lack of technique that was his undoing. He was actually having a very good game prior to that, and when he dropped his head my heart sank. It was tough to watch such a confident young kid battle all that way for naught.

      You’re preaching to the choir regarding Sam Moa. We have missed that go-forward for the past four, five games with him and JWH out, and as hard as LOD and MK have played what Sam Moa is capable of sets the tone, the platform and the go-forward they’ve sorely lacked.

      And while i’d love to make an additional comment on the referees, you’ve said it all really!


  2. Cheers Jake,
    Once upon a time in this great game of ours match referees prior to blowing the whistle would utter the words ‘I’ll not tolerate’ to both captains and end with a similarly harsh warning re: consequences.
    Those were the days…
    I bring this up only to make a point regarding the Rooster’s collective mindset when confronted, yes confronted is the right word, with situations such as last night. As players and as a team you’ve trained, practiced, rehearsed and plotted to a near state of boredom only to find that, within minutes of taking ‘your game’ onto the field your penalised, warned, penalised again, brutalised into submission and left literally standing scratching your head only without the time to stand or to scratch necessarily. At this point the series, “Life on Mars” automatically comes to mind.
    And at this point on the field all you have with you is a game plan, one you are given and one you share and are asked to buy into by the coach. The quandary now for these players is that even during the early stages of the game it is apparent such a game plan has been rendered ineffectual, it’s promises nullified by opposition tactics and by inept refereeing. The questions in player’s minds must arise: will the situation swing around?, is it just a matter of time?, 50/50 and karma etc etc. All the while your opposition is busy putting winning points on the scoreboard. The clock watching starts and your captain asks you to lift even more in response.
    In day’s gone by there was an answer to remedy this…
    I’ll try to put it nicely by saying depending on your team the answer was Arthur Beetson, or John O’Neill, Les Boyd or perhaps even Terry Randall. In those days you were a player, as a club you were dealt a set of cards and you played them as you saw fit. If it meant a send-off so be it. Nobody argued, nobody came up with bullshit defences or excuses.
    Our great game has and continues to be robbed of it’s character and robbed of it’s mentors, those players who stood for something and accepted responsibility for their actions. The League with its obsession to be seen to be cleaning-up the game has in fact created a more negative, grubby standard of play with a bunch of players, a deceitful lot who worship the ‘will at all cost’ mentality more often than not.
    The proudest NRL clubs all look back on their past premierships their members recounting their quality playing stocks, their season hurdles and tough opposition, and to a man agree the best sides always took home the flag.
    I fear this Roosters side who continue to play with fairness and integrity first and foremost each week, will struggle like a boxer in a back-lane brawl with one arm tied behind his back.


  3. Pingback: We Love League | Review: Warriors 23, Roosters 12·

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