Roosters Cramp Doggies’ Style

The Sydney Roosters have secured a big win with a 24-10 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Allianz stadium on Friday night. 

It was 11th v 7th as the Roosters visited the Bulldogs home turf attempting to roll with the momentum of a crucial win against the Tigers last week. Both sides had won only 1 of their last 5 games and had players keen to impress with State of Origin selections on the horizon.

It was the Bulldogs who opened the scoring early in the match. Curtis Rona was the recipient of a beautiful around-the-body offload by lumbering prop Sam Kasiano. The conversion was unsuccessful off the boot of last years’ NSW Origin halfback Trent Hodkinson who was keen to press his claim for top spot. 4-0 to the Dogs after only 9 minutes.

A trademark, explosive left-foot step by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck saw the fullback dive over the line, only to be denied the try after an obstruction ruling by the video referee. James Maloney gave away the penalty after he infringed upon a defender off the ball. Maloney was another one of the halves out to impress in the hope of earning a call-for Origin I. 

Jake Friend looks to be back to his best in the centre of the field. After several darting runs, the hooker was pulled up millimetres short after attempting to reach out for the line in the 23rd minute. 

After four weeks on the sidelines through suspension, James Grahame’s return was brief and probably blurry. The fiery front-row Pom was assisted from the field in the 27th minute after copping a head-knock in a heavy tackle. Grahame was unable to return to the field under the new ‘concussion’ rule that he has so publicly and now very ironically rubbished.

Sustained pressure on the Bulldog’s line created an opportunity after Maloney nudged a perfect grubber in-goal and forced another set of six tackles. Jake Friend spotted a lazy marker and darted toward the wing of Daniel Tupou. Friend hit the flying winger who placed the ball down for his 8th try of the season. Maloney kicked 6/7 against the Tiger’s last week but missed the conversion out wide to lock scores at 4-4 just 4 minutes out from half-time.

Canterbury found the Roosters hard to handle. They looked fatigued and ready for the hooter to sound, which is all Roger Tuivasa-Sheck needed. The fullback would not be denied a second time, taking matters into his own hands and busting through the grasp of Pritchard and Hodkinson to score near the posts. 10-4 at half-time and all signs pointed to a desperate need for leadership in the centre of the park by the Bulldogs halves to steer the match back in their favour.

In what was a tough, grinding opening to the second half the Roosters earned an 81% completion rate after 54 minutes and dominated with 65% possession. The Roosters kicked a penalty after Tim Brownewas adjudged to have remained in the play-the-ball area for too long. James Maloney slotted the penalty goal from in front to put the Roosters ahead 12 – 4.

Sam Perrett had a night to forget after spilling a beautiful Mitchell Pearce spiralling bomb straight into the clutches of Mitchell Aubusson in the 63rd minute. 18-4 after the conversion and Canterbury were hanging their heads behind the goal posts.

Negative body language translated into errors for Canterbury. The Referee has ruled that a Michael Lichaa pass went forward giving the Roosters great field position. Jake Friend set up another break which saw Aidan Guerra cross for his second try of the season.

Shaun Kenny-Dowall was denied what would have been a special try as the Roosters flung the ball around with great confidence. Kenny-Dowall failed to ground the ball in the 75th minute after attempting to regather his own grubber kick. 

Moses Mbye scored a lovely consolation try on the hooter after Josh Reynolds charged down a Maloney kick, regathered and kicked ahead for a flying Mbye.

The Sydney Roosters only conceded 4 penalties in the whole match and completed 30/39 sets to the Dogs 20/34.

In an interesting comparison between opposing five-eighths:

James Maloney 5 missed tackles, averaged 9.25 metres per run (14) with 1 line break and 14 tackles  while on the losing side Josh Reynolds averaged 9.2 metres per run (10), 1 missed tackle, 19 tackles, 1 try assist.

Asked as to whether he thought Mitchell Pearce was up to the task of Origin halfback, Trent Robinson was clear.

“The simple way I’d say it is that he has been a good kid for a long time and now he is a great guy. That is the difference,” Robinson said.

“He will be ready to go if he is called upon.”

Origin I kicks-off at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday May 27th.