Sydney Roosters 36 (Maloney, Cordner, Jennings, Guerra, Tupou, Kenny-Dowall tries, Maloney 6 goals) bt St George-Illawarra Dragons 0.
Crowd: 11,857 at OKI Jubilee Stadium.
The Roosters have beaten the Dragons 70-10 this season. Ding dong, the voodoo’s dead.
The Roosters have killed voodoos from the north (Manly), west (Bulldogs) and now south this season en route to their best campaign since 2004, a season which resulted in a Grand Final and a near win but for a Mick Crocker dropped ball from an ankle tap.
In many ways, though, this is the better year. So far they have defied convention, made defence a highlight, and they seemed to have learned from early season wobbles how to aim up against the pathetic.
The Dragons amazingly had 51 per cent of the ball, but in that time never looked like crossing the line with the Roosters maintaining that incredible brick wall of defence, twice being held up over the line and attacking for four straight sets of six early in the first half to eventually lose by its biggest margin ever at Kogarah Oval.
And for all the Dragons fans complaining about the penalties: One, you won the penalty count 10-3. Two, welcome to the Roosters world when simple things like a player undercutting their own winger catching a bomb would be grounds for a send-off for the winger if messrs Klein and Hayne were adjudicating. The Roosters have copped the most penalties of any team in the comp and sit second, while winning a count 10-3 led to your inept Dragons failing to score and moved them closer to a wooden spoon they’d thoroughly deserve.
The Roosters scored 18 points in each half despite losing Sonny Bill Williams after 29 minutes to a hammy twinge — but Roosters officials have maintained not bringing him back on was simply a precautionary measure with SBW expected to play in round 19 against Todd Carney and the Sharks.
The Roosters have put in a performance this year that is bordering on historic — but more on that later.
For now, the Roosters head into the bye on a three-match winning streak and having conceded points in just one of their past four halves of footy with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck expected to return for that one.
Man of the Match.
Boyd Cordner was tremendous against the Dragons, his performance doing enough to convince selectors for NSW that he was deserving for a spot in a 20-man Blues squad. Should Greg Bird not recover in time from an ankle injury, the 21-year-old will snag a spot on the bench and debut in two Wednesday’s time.
Against the Dragons he had the Man of the Match award wrapped up at half time by when he’d already scored a try, tackled the house down and punched mini-holes all through the Dragons. He does everything a football team needs: you need him to link up with his centres, give him the ball and he’ll throw it. Quick play-the-ball? Done. Solid hit or tackle around the ankles? Boyd will make the right choice.
Typifying his effort was a play late in the game, when he chased a Jake Friend kick, was first to the wicked bounce and played the ball quickly, enabling Friendy to follow up with a blind side play and an eventual Tupou try.
He’s the Pollyfilla of rugby league, filling gaps when needed and while he doesn’t make that run through the line based on power, everything seemingly comes off the back of one of his hitups.
He had 15 runs for 116 metres with a try, three tackle busts and 17 tackles — stats which don’t jump off the page, sure, but he’s that type of player. Thequality of everything he does is first-rate and if he doesn’t make the 17 for NSW, he’s a sure thing for next year.
Just behind him for MotM were Friend, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves — who ran it for 140 metres and made a game-high 43 tackles in 60 minutes of action.
Maloney returns to form.
He broke the line — the first time he’s done so for the Roosters since round six. But more than that, he scored the first try in support after linking up perfectly with Jennings who had space to create, and made everyone forget how good SBW was in the five-eighth role the last two games.
He services his outside men as well as any five-eighth in the competition and his goal-kicking is invaluable — as we all learned when he was out last week versus the Sea Eagles.
Defensively he was better: 13 tackles with two misses, but none crucial. he also made two errors and gave away two cheap penalties, but it was good to see him bust out at least with repeated peppering of the defensive line with probing darts.
Friend moves up the hooking ranks.
Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah are the top hookers in the game, the tier one talents in their class. But Jake Friend has moved firmly into that second tier of hookers with the likes of Michael Ennis.
He’s far more creative this season than in any recently, and is reaping the rewards of the offload work from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. He runs the ball more and his kicking is becoming a great weapon which takes further pressure off his halves. He had nine runs for 84 metres with a try assist and two kicks for 85 metres, one of which ended up resulting in a try to Tupou on the ensuing play.
He’s probably leapfrogged the likes of Matt Ballin into that tier two, and out of him and Ennis, I know who I’d want in my team.
History just another donut away — and we are witnessing something special.
It’s better to let the statistics do the talking to back up this claim. To wit:
So the Roosters have eight more games to create history. They play the Sharks (twice), Knights, Panthers, Tigers, Raiders, Titans and Rabbitohs to finish out the year, and have a real good shot at it. But either way, it’s been one of the most enjoyable seasons Roosters fans have been witness to, regardless of how it’s remembered in the history books.
Match stats per the Sydney Morning Herald (click to enlarge):