In a spotlight performance, half-back Mitchell Pearce played his best game of the season. With numerous line breaks, deft kicking and positive ball-movement, Pearce led his side to a deserved victory.
Retiring full-back Anthony Minichiello ran out for what would be his final home match and was met by a brutal display of ferocious footy. Both sides battled the wet conditions to dominate field possession and control of the ball early.
Both teams defended with intensity. South Sydney managed to frustrate the Roosters attack a number of times, forcing the ball loose and stemming the flow of ball movement across the field. The Roosters looked impenetrable in the first 40-minutes as they handled every attack and forced the Bunnies to make some sloppy plays.
The Roosters scored the only try in the first half, after half Mitchell Pearce broke the line with some confident side-stepping. The ball was ruled to be deliberately knocked from his grasp, Pearce regathered and hoicked it out to Daniel Tupou on the left wing.
“We always knew it was going to be a physical clash,” Minicheillo commented at the break.
Sydney City played a fast game in the centre of the field, showing no signs of missing suspended hooker Jake Friend. Through the impressive leadership of Mitchell Pearce, the Roosters made several line-breaks, successfully converting their chances through tries to Anthony Minichiello and James Maloney.
With the score at 22-2 to the Roosters deep into the second half, the Rabbitohs looked buried. But the champion side showed their class, scoring three late tries (Dylan Walker, Alex Johnston, Lote Tuqiri) to bring the score back within 4-points with five minutes on the clock.
The Roosters shook the memories of earlier in the year when the Bunnies did steal a late victory, to close out the game and put them clear on top of the NRL Ladder.
“We dropped our focus in the last 15 which was disappointing,” Pearce commented after the match.
“It was good to finish up with the win.”
The Sydney Roosters will claim the minor premiership if Manly fail to beat the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday in Townsville.