Roosters remind fans what could have been
It was the type of complete and dominant performance that would have Roosters fans wondering about a season of wasted potential. The Chooks played a quality level of footy that was far better than what their position of 15th on the ladder suggested going into the game as they walloped the Dragons.
The Chooks starting forwards Jared Waerea-Hargeaves and Sio Siua Taukeiaho ran over the top of the Dragons pack to start the game putting their team in good position to post the opening two tries. In the 2nd half their bench continued to make an impact with Sam Moa having one of his best games of the year making 2 line break assists as they ran rampant over their opposition, scoring 5 unanswered tries. The forwards laid the platform and the backs reaped the rewards with doubles to Daniel Tupou and Blake Ferguson while Mitchell Aubusson and Ryan Matterson both bagged a try from the left centre position. Ferguson had a particularly impressive performance scoring 2 tries, running for 207m, making 2 line breaks, busting 11 tackles and coming up with a try assist.
Over the last few weeks the Roosters have played with the energy and enthusiasm entirely unbefitting of a cellar dweller team. While they may rue the 8 matches they lost by 4 points or less during the year and fans will wonder just how different the season might have turned out, it’s a patch of form that was better late than never.
St George fails to build on last week’s performance
In one of the biggest upsets of the season last week St George put in their best performance of the year to topple the Sharks. They played an expansive, open style of footy with plenty of ball movement that their opposition was unable to contain. In their match against the Roosters on Sunday though, just about none of that flair from last week remained. The Dragons barely looked threatening at any stage of the game as the Roosters shut down every backline shift and barge through the middle that was thrown at them. The Dragons poor defence in the 2nd half meant they were just about starved of possession and the Roosters ran away with it. In a 10 minute period from the 50 to 60th minute the Dragons conceded 4 tries as the Roosters backs found gaps in the line and ripped through some wafer-thin defence.
The absence of two try hero Tariq Sims would have had an impact on the Dragons performance as they missed the power he had through the middle and his offloading ability. However one man’s absence couldn’t excuse the complete setback in performance the Dragons offered up on Sunday. It would appear last week was a case of one step forward, three steps back as they put in a performance more reflective of their season as a whole.
Now that their season is gone the cries for young half Drew Hutchison to be given a go in first grade will be made. With the chances of Benji re-signing looking slim perhaps it’d be best for the Dragons to give one of their potential star players of the future a chance to show what he can do. Retiring club veteran Ben Creagh will also have a chance to have a farewell game at Kogarah in what would be an appropriate send-off.
Under fire Rooster hits back
Aidan Guerra had been in a rough patch of form lately with a particularly poor performance two weeks ago leading to him being dropped from the first grade side. With a concussion injury ruling out Dale Copley from the game an opening was made for Guerra to return to the starting lineup and he put in a solid showing that Chooks fans will be hoping leads him back to some good form.
He played out the full 80 minutes, made 35 tackles without a miss and topped it off with a try showing good instincts and positioning to pounce on a Jake Friend grubber into the in-goal. With the Roosters aiming for a strong finish to the year to establish a building block for next year, the return of an in-form Guerra will be a key part of the Roosters once again becoming a Top 8 team in 2017.
Where do Keary and Gordon fit in for 2017?
Coach Trent Robinson might have a selection headache on his hands with the Roosters recent form putting a question mark on how their new signings for 2017 will fit in. The signings of Bunnies half Luke Keary was made before Connor Watson had shifted to starting 5/8 and the form he has showed has made him the best halves partner for Mitchell Pearce this year making it hard to justify a return to lower grades next year. While Keary has made a good impact off the bench for the Rabbitohs in a dummy half role the versatility of Ryan Matterson will also make it hard to decide on a bench utility. Matterson’s ability to cover the halves, back-row and centres has made him invaluable to the Roosters as of late, coming on to fill in at left centre position early in the game the last two weeks and bagging a try each time.
The recent performances of Blake Ferguson at fullback will also make it tough for Michael Gordon to find a place in the team. Signed as an experienced, reliable option at the back who could help mentor Latrell Mitchell, Gordon lacks the hard running style of Ferguson that has helped the Roosters get their sets off to good starts. As he continues to improve to improve in the fullback position with two rounds to go the more Ferguson has a chance to make the position his own. However the team lines up next year it’ll be a welcome worry for Robinson to be spoilt for choice when it comes to position selections after some dire times this year.
In The Sheds
Mitchell Aubusson left the field after 20 minutes with what was described on commentary to be possible bruised kidneys.
Taane Milne came off the field injured at the 53rd minute.
Sydney Roosters– 42
Tries: Mitchell Aubusson (14m), Ryan Matterson (28m), Daniel Tupou (50m, 55m), Blake Ferguson (52m, 76m), Aidan Guerra (61m)
Goals: Sio Siua Taukeiaho 4/4
Latrell Mitchell 3/4
St George Dragons– 6
Tries: Gareth Widdop (36m)
Goals: Gareth Widdop 1/1