SYDNEY ROOSTERS 28 (M Jennings 2 S Kenny-Dowall J Maloney D Tupou tries J Maloney 4 goals) bt CANBERRA 22 (B Ferguson 2 S Earl J Edwards tries J Croker 3 goals) at Allianz Stadium.
Crowd: 13,223 at Allianz Stadium.
If revenge is a dish best served cold, then what temperature was the dish the Roosters served up on Saturday?
Luke-warm? Tepid? Should it even be classified as revenge?
In making up for an early-season capitulation in Canberra, the Roosters served up moments of beautiful football, lazy defence, a distinct lack of go-forward and an inability to contain anyone with size for the Raiders.
The Roosters had to rely on a bit of luck and some incredible passes from their halves to win their seventh straight game on Saturday and move two points clear of the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the head of the competition. Predictably, the Chooks took their foot off the necks of a Raiders squad that faced an 18-point deficit midway through the second half and almost again came unstuck against a big team they have real trouble containing.
The referees were terrible in this contest, keeping a very short 10 metres for the Raiders and letting them run offside on countless occasions, while they were more than happy to blow the pea out of the whistle whenever a Roosters’ player was near a tackle. As is becoming custom, for the second straight game the Roosters gave away a penalty in their first defensive set — this time on the very first tackle they were forced to make. It was hardly the last penalty they’d cop in this one, getting blown out again in that regard 11-6.
They struggled all match to contain the size of the Raiders, who despite being down in possession 52-48 made almost 100 extra metres over the Chooks through the likes of Papalii and Ferguson, who was the best player on the field by a long way in a beaten side.
Man of the Match.
James Maloney takes it again for the second straight match, and he’s doing a little bit of everything in attack for this team in the past two games. From cutouts to bombs, to line breaks and short balls, The BBQ is back, baby!
He grabbed an intercept and raced 60 metres to score, had a perfectly-placed kick for the Tupou tap-back to Jennings, used quick hands with Aubusson to set up SKD’s try and threw a seductive cutout for Toops to finish the scoring for the Roosters.
Defensively? That’s another story. He missed seven tackles and was found out all game, struggling mightily to contain Papalii. But in a game where the Roosters were lucky to escape with a win, it was his superb attacking play which got them over the line.
There’s no humbling Fergo.
Hey Blake, when you have been charged with a serious crime that has kept you out of the game for nearly two months, almost had your contract ripped up on two occasions this season alone and return to a team that is barely clinging to a playoff spot in a game where you’re up against the best team in the NRL, maybe you should go ahead and not tell the fans to shoosh when you score a try.
You would think being out of the game for so long and having your name tarnished would humble someone, but instead Fergo has taken lessons from Darius Boyd in how to come off looking like even more of a dick than initially thought possible.
Let’s get one thing clear: Ferguson is innocent until proven guilty, and deserves every right to resume his playing career up until he is judged in a court. That’s called due process, and he deserves to be heard. It’s also worth noting here that he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Yet his name is tarnished at the moment, that’s just a fact. And it seems like he hasn’t done anything, nor does he intend to, to turn that image around. Perhaps he’s one of those players that psyches themselves up through trash talk and thinking he’s the best player out there, like a Kevin Garnett does in the NBA.
Perhaps that arrogance and swagger led him to being the best player by a mile on Saturday night. But he is so damn talented that he shouldn’t need to be petulant to perform — because eventually that swag is going to further bore the fans who are already bored by his behaviour.
He should really just rebuild his image through the best spokesperson he has available — his game. Because shooshing a crowd and lobbing verbal grenades at your opponents will do nothing to stem the tide of hate directed his way since he was charged, and won’t illicit sympathy if and when he needs it.
Injuries starting to mount.
That well-documented depth at the Roosters is facing it’s biggest test at the wrong end of the season. In-form second-rower Boyd Cordner looks set to miss the rest of the season, joining an injury list that includes Marty Kennedy, Kane Evans, Tautau Moga, Anthony Minichiello, Michael Oldfield, Jack Bosden and Luke O’Donnell — although the last name there is expected to be back this week.
Sonny Bill is also expected back, but the loss of Cordner is huge. His combo with MP7 out left was one of the best go-to plays in the NRL, and on the field he’s the most vocal and most supportive of the four vice-captains at the Roosters.
The soft run home will hurt in the long run.
This writer is getting more concerned by the soft-run into the finals with every game. Watching the Souths-Melbourne game was a reminder of just how important a real test is heading into the big games, and Souths will take a lot from that loss especially when you consider Greg Inglis and John Sutton will return soon.
Well, they’ll take a lot more out of that loss than the Roosters will out of their past two matches, that’s for sure.
The Roosters look to be coasting, getting by on flashes of brilliance or one half of dominance. They’ve beaten Manly twice but have lost their other two big tests this year against Melbourne and Souths, and they won’t get a chance to test themselves against one of those squads until round 26.
This writer firmly believes that Melbourne will make the Grand Final, with the other spot being between Souths and Easts. The Roosters have been incredible, sure, but they are no sure things as winning every week while losing penalty counts doesn’t teach them anything — and chances are growing more and more likely that penalties will trip this team up.
Match stats per the Sydney Morning Herald (click to enlarge):