“They run for a try now. It’s come down to Graham, back to the middle, it’s found Minichiello, a long range shot from Anasta–”
“HE’S GOT IT!!!”
Every Roosters fan remembers where they were that day and how the hell they reacted when Braith potted that kick. Me? I was working in Asia at the time and nearly got kicked out of my apartment for screaming my ring out.
The game was on delay. I turned Facebook off and shut off the rest of the world so the result would not be spoiled. I sat up at 1AM and cracked open the first of a sixer of Asahi and watched as the Roosters went down 15-2.
Then Todd Carney pulled off the chip and regather for Braith to score. Then Jake Friend darted from dummy half to isolate the defender and send Carney away again who then put Mitchell Pearce over. And from then on, I did not sit. Once.
I received my first noise complaint in my apartment at around 3AM when Braith performed his water-to-wine equivalent. The walls rattled from the scream, the floorboards shook from the repeated jumping up and down. It sounded like someone was being murdered rather than a field goal being celebrated. At any rate, the neighbours who had no idea what an “NRL” was weren’t too pleased.
I received another complaint when I screamed at Sam Perrett for playing at a clearing kick from Robbie Farah when he should have let it go. Another complaint came after I let out a guttural groan when Pearcey grazed the upright with a field goal attempt. And I received my final warning at what felt like 4AM as I rode Shaun Kenny-Dowall like Makybe Diva all the way to the corner to win the greatest game I have ever seen.
But shit, the neighbours could hardly complain if I kept them up: how do they think I felt trying to go to bed with all that adrenaline running through my veins?
Even neutrals still consider that game one of the greats — and Tigers fans, too, will never forget it. Why? Because they only lost by four in the end. Given recent history, that’s an exceptional result on their part when playing the Roosters.
As one notable Twitter fiend asked yesterday:
So we at 26 Rounds did some research. Yes, they’ve beaten us: once, the following year, by seven points.
And that’s it. Through five years, two coaches, a premiership, a near wooden spoon and Braith actually switching to the Tigers at one point, the Roosters have consistently had the wood on the Magpigers (© @EastsFan). And aside from that one loss, it’s been literally a flogging every other time, with no final score closer than 14 points since 2010.
The Roosters have won eight out of the nine games played since Braith kicked that thing. In those victories the average score has been 39.1 to 11.3. That’s not a misprint. Thirty-nine-point-one to eleven-point-three. Yikes. Even Debbie wasn’t that sure a thing in Dallas.
The Roosters have been playing horrendously this year…but would you really bet against the sheer weight of history here?
It’s been a shit year that got slightly shittier: Boyd Cordner has been ruled out for at least a month. No replacement has been named for him at this stage, so watch the relevant Roosters Twitter and Facebook for late confirmation of the shift in the squad.
Thankfully Dale Copley returns in the centres; the offseason recruit has been out since round three with a pectoral injury. Joe Burgess remains the odd man out. Jackson Hastings again has not been named, with Ryan Matterson again starting at five-eighth, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will start for the first time this year with Sam Moa shifting back to an extended bench.
1 Latrell Mitchell, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Mitchell Aubusson, 4 Dale Copley, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Ryan Matterson, 7 Mitchell Pearce, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 TBC, 12 Aidan Guerra, 13 Siosiua Taukeiaho. Interchange: 14 Isaac Liu, 15 Sam Moa, 16 Kane Evans, 17 Connor Watson, 18 Eloni Vunakece.
The Tigers are coming off a win against the origin-depleted-but-still-stronger-on-paper Broncos last week despite being down Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods to Origin themselves. Assuming both make it through tomorrow’s game they’ll be right to go versus the Roosters on Sunday afternoon, while James Tedesco returns from a fractured shoulder.
1 James Tedesco, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Tim Simona, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Mitchell Moses, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ava Seumanufagai, 11 Josh Aloiai, 12 Chris Lawrence, 13 Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14 Sauaso Sue, 15 Matt Ballin, 16 Tim Grant, 17 Dene Halatau, 18 Kyle Lovett, 19 JJ Felice.
What to expect?
The obvious thing to worry about if you’re a Roosters fan is when Tedesco has the ball. The bloke is a freak and without peer this season, despite missing a few games with a fractured shoulder. He’s averaging a try a match with 9.8 metres a run off 13.3 runs and an insane 6.3 tackle busts — oh, and he’s also set up seven tries.
And he can pull shit out of his nowhere, as he did here:
Meanwhile, the Roosters need to watch rookie Josh Addo-Carr on the attacking end. He’s a big unit that can bust a tackle and power over the line, and has scored a try a match with 1.7 line breaks and 138.3 running metres through his first three NRL games. He comes up against the notoriously fragile right edge and Blake Ferguson, who is backing up from Origin and is also averaging a miserable 3.55 misses a match per 26 Rounds stats — although it’s important to note the overwhelming majority of those misses were as a centre with a greater defensive workload and he’s playing just his second game on the wing as a Rooster this weekend.
Regardless, the Tigers through a combination of Addo-Carr and Tedesco could decimate the right side defence of the Chooks.
The Roosters? They’ll send most of their boppers at the Tigers’ young halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses. Brooks is averaging an insane 4.9 misses a match — completing just 59 per cent of his attempts — and Moses isn’t much better at a dismal 4.1 a match and completing just 76 per cent of his attempts.
As such the Roosters could attack either fringe and find paydirt, though the likely target remains Brooks who defends on the Tigers’ left edge where he comes up against the likes of Guerra, Copley and Tupou and the lurking ways of Latrell Mitchell hitting a line off a Pearce tunnel ball.
If the Roosters were smart, though, they’d attack the other edge with equal regularity where Moses “defends” and make use of the improved play-making on that edge of Latrell, who has a deadly hit-and-spin lefty offload to go with an insatiable appetite to bust tackles.
I can’t predict a Roosters loss here. Not only does history favour them, but a loss here would spell the end of a five-year hoodoo and I simply can’t tempt that fate. We don’t ask much of the Rugby League Gods, but I beg of them to leave this hoodoo in place. It’s all we have.
And you know how the Gods could help to keep the hoodoo in place? By ensuring Robbie Farah is fit to play after State of Origin last night. The hooker — who it was rumoured almost signed with the Chooks this off-season after nearly being forced from the Wests club — has played in seven games this year for a record of one win, six losses.
In games he hasn’t played? They’ve mustered four wins and just the one loss.
Regardless of whether he plays or not, the Roosters will start heavy favourites despite having won three fewer games than their Sunday opponents — and that’s a favouritism derived from a half-decade of decimations performed regardless of form or talent on paper, whether home or away.
So it should be Roosters, 13+. This may end up on the closer end of that margin, but history cannot be ignored here just as it should not have been when the Chooks lost to the Titans a few weeks back, or when they play the Sharks this year.
Hoodoos are hoodoos until they ain’t, and this is one heckuva hoodoo.