SYDNEY ROOSTERS 31 (Tupou 2, Jennings, Pearce, Maloney tries; Maloney five goals; Maloney field goal) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 30 (Lowe, Cooper, Thurston, Lui, Scott tries; Thurston five goals).
Crowd: 18,335 at Allianz Stadium.
The fact that Roosters fans are angry rather than rejoicing — after a thrilling one-point win in one of the games of the year — probably says everything you need to know about the insipid, lazy and predictable media coverage of it.
The articles that appeared less than an hour after the game could have been all but written last week; all they needed was the context of the game to fill in the blanks around the “conspiracy” they were always hoping for. But amazingly they left out the majority of said context, instead focussing on the last five minutes rather than any of the first 30, and twisting 50/50 and correct calls to absolutes in favour of the Cowboys.
Calls went both ways. You know this, I know this, but the media doesn’t and plays up the conspiracy angle to perfection.
You know the penalty that was awarded to the Roosters (SBW near the end) but that the Cowboys and their merry band of bandwagoners (media included) called a knock-on? Boyd Cordner was penalised for the exact same infringement earlier in the game. Linnett has a hold of his arm, and it’s a penalty… but don’t let that get in the way of a good story, especially since a Roosters fan is the one telling it. Instead, let’s let Fox Sports’ Warren Smith have the dais, via Twitter:
So the Roosters got the benefit of the doubt at worst; they got the correct call by any degree otherwise.
And the Lui knock on was a knock on. If you are a Cowboys fan reading this and don’t think it was, just ask yourself this and try to be honest: If that was Pearce in the Lui role and Maloney scooped that ball up to win it for the Roosters on the bell, you’d think it was a knock on, and so would the media.
Why? It’s a better storyline that the Cows got screwed over again, that’s why.
Thanks to the sheer one-sidedness of the coverage, you wouldn’t know that Lui missed an easy tackle on an off-balance Tupou for the Roosters’ fourth try, or that Michael Morgan had a shocker all-round, or that they failed to clean up a Maloney grubber after it hit the post, or that they failed also to sack Jimmy twice in close quarters, allowing him to score a try on the first occasion, then to jink for the field goal that iced it.
I don’t blame the blatant forward pass (a deliberate forward pass, mind you) prior to the first Cows try for the collapse while at the same time overlook an easy miss by Mitch Pearce on Gavin Cooper, or JT bamboozling SBW or literally the worst performance of our captain’s club-record 302-game career.
Calls go both ways, and while we can dish out a good dose of referee blame, most sane Roosters fans can look past them and point to other things that cost us in addition to the men in pink. Heck, we’ve literally been the most penalised team in the past decade, and we’ve learned to deal with it somewhat.
This bitching and blatant “buy our papers” bullshit from the major metros takes me back to the heady days of the finals in 2004 when this Cowboys ethos of “blame everyone but ourselves” began against us. There was a scrum that needed to be packed, and you never set the scrum in time before the hooter went. But fuck the rules, the hysteria is more fun and so much easier.
And it’s been a long whingefest ever since.
Man of the Match
It’s hard to remember now, but the opening 30 minutes for the Roosters was outstanding and some good work was done — especially by James Maloney.
He threw an incredible cutout for Toops’ first try, then laid on one for Jenko with a grubber that stopped at the post, before diving over himself to bring up the 30 point buffer… that they’d eventually squander like so many other times this year. But more on that later.
The halves did everything they could to secure the win, and at 30-nil it should never have been that close. But Maloney’s performance shouldn’t be lost in the near historic collapse and cries of conspiracy.
He had the try, the two assists, two line breaks, eight tackle busts, seven runs for 69 metres and three errors — the latter of which definitely put them under pressure, but no more than others in the team.
Sam Moa was almost there as the Man of the Match as well; his being off the ground (along with JWH and Friend) coincided with the beginning of the rot for the Roosters and his return helped to match the incredible platform that Tamou, Scott and Taumalolo were laying.
He had 15 runs, 149 metres, five tackle busts and 35 tackles without a miss. When Napa is back this week he will likely start, with Moa comes off the bench. This means we have one each of JWH or Moa patrolling the field at all times, and we’ll need that to have a hope of winning the comp — because Casty ain’t no LOD off the bench, but Moa is everything LOD was and more.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Pearce’s running game looked dangerous every time he elected to take it to the line, and his pace for a halfback is breathtaking to watch. He had 145 metres for his seven runs — including that 90-metre sprint to open proceedings. But the miss on Cooper was poor and out of character considering his sublime defence in the past month. It was shirt-grabbing at best.
Late collapses the story of 2014
If the Sydney Roosters’ 2013 season had a tombstone, you could probably have it engraved with ” “Premiers” and everyone would be happy. I’d prefer to have it engraved with ” They kept six teams to nil”. For mine, that was the story of the 2013 season and an indication of why they won in the first place.
The 2014 season isn’t yet over, but unless we end up winning the premiership that tombstone could read “More collapses than the Hoff on a bender”.
This has been one terrible year for those of us who like to brag about a dominant lead mid-game, because the Roosters have proven this year that the opposition is never truly out of it.
Up 24-0 to the Sharks? Lose to the wooden spooners.
Up 22-2 to the Rabbitohs? Let’s let in three late tries, make it interesting.
Up six with minutes to go? Let’s hope the ball bounces out and that the Panthers don’t magically swoop on it.
Up 30 nil? Let’s switch off for the next 40 minutes, see what happens. It’s just the Cowboys.
I know we were cheering at 30-nil, but memories of the Sharks game will continue to haunt this writer and many other fans of this club — it just seemingly has had no effect on the players themselves.
Already, Maloney has been in the media about starting well against the Rabbitohs:
“Hopefully it comes into play,” he said. “Hopefully we can put ourselves in a position in the game where that can start weighing on their minds, but it won’t happen until we start really well and we make them go to some dark places.
“So we’ll have to be a lot better than we were [on Friday night]. Whether we win by one or 20 I couldn’t care to be honest as long as it’s a win.”
The starts aren’t the issue; it’s the finishes, champ. Maybe put some focus on those as well, because no matter how well you start, teams know they can come back.
If anyone should be worried about going to “dark places”, it’s us.
A Mini heart attack
Let’s hope Mini has finished off the worst patch of form of his career the past two weeks and returns to something resembling the form he was showing just after announcing his retirement during the Roosters’ recent five match win streak.
Because we can’t win the comp with our custodian looking this shaky. It’s not the dropped bomb that troubled me; it’s the lack of composure and the silly decisions he’s making because of it.
Last week, he needed to either take that ball out or dead. Instead, Dean Whare scoops up a freak flick from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to score. This week, he just needed to take that tackle. Instead, he throws the worst ball seen since Lane Armstrong’s operation to put the Roosters under all sorts. Throw in the dropped bomb and general lack of oomph, and it’s clear The Count is off.
I doubt they drop the captain on the eve of what could be his last game, so he has one to two more chances to end on a high note, the note he deserves. He’s better than this, and he’s played well prior to the finals. He needs to regain that if he wants to go out a winner.