Roosters sloppiness almost costs them
The Roosters came close to wasting a 28-0 half-time lead the week before, after a multitude of errors led to the Titans scoring a few tries. This week it was no different and they should consider themselves lucky they were able to hang on for a narrow victory. A poor opening 10 minutes saw them concede two tries off the back of errors from repeat offenders Aidan Guerra and Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Once again dropped ball and silly errors led to an opposition team pouncing on opportunities. A kick on last play from Mitchell Pearce that found itself out on the full led to a Dogs try from the ensuing set.
The Roosters will need to do a ton of work to improve their ball control. Against the top teams in the competition the Roosters can ill afford to keep up repeated errors as teams like the Storm will heavily punish them for it.
Goal-kicking makes all the difference
The game finished at 5 tries apiece but in the end it was accuracy from the boot that determined the winner. Moses Mbye took over the kicking duties for an injured Kerrod Holland and many of his wide attempts went completely astray. While he isn’t the Dogs first choice kicker, Mbye had a respectable conversion rate of 71% in 2016 so some of his misses were shockingly shanked. For the criticism the Dogs attack can attract, it becomes that much more vital that when they do get on a roll on the scoreboard, that they’re going up in 6’s. With Holland facing a stint on the sidelines, the responsibility will fall to Mbye to get his team an extra 2 points and so he’ll need to put in a lot of hours with the kicking tee because as Thursday’s game showed it can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Keary starts year in scintillating form
Luke Keary picked up from where he left off the week before with another stunning performance for the Roosters. He was instrumental in their victory, setting up 3 of his side’s 5 tries. His running game helped produced his side’s first try. Charging into the defensive line, he got away an offload in a two man tackle to Boyd Cordner who then fell over the try-line. Later he set up a try for Tupou off a pinpoint kick and heading into the last 10 minutes of the game he exploited a gap in the sliding defence to send Aubusson into open space where he ran a beautiful line from 20m out to score.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as he made two blunders attempting to dive for a loose ball. The 2nd of which led to a try in the 77th minute which set up a thrilling finish that shouldn’t have happened. For all the good he did though Keary has undoubtedly silenced the doubters who believed his signing was a waste on the Roosters behalf and has sent a message to his biggest critic, asking him if he is not entertained.
Bulldogs need better distribution and fast
Breaking it down to basics, a sports team is like any business product. Many different departments and production goes into producing the final performance on field. When distribution is poor then output will suffer. Michael Lichaa’s service out of dummy half epitomises this. His slow style of passing where he stops and picks the ball up to pass it, often halted the Dogs forward momentum as they lost the opportunity to gain a few extra metres as the Roosters had time to set their defensive line. The one time during the match Lichaa went for a run and found himself with some room to move he looked like he had no what to do and passed it back inside to a forward, losing the metres gained.
Lichaa isn’t a terrible player and it’s not fair for an armchair critic to deride his game too much. However considering the Dogs let go of Michael Ennis to obtain Lichaa as a player of the future while also later letting go of the speedy, dynamic dummy half work of Damien Cook means Lichaa has a lot to live up to. Whether his service is his inherent playing style or a coach instructed game plan something needs to change. Other hookers in the comp like Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah and Peter Wallace are able to pick up the ball one handed, at speed, out of dummy half and keep the sets rolling. The Dogs have a forward pack to make just about any game competitive but it’s no use if they have to stop and start every set. That all starts with the speed and service out of the hooking position.
In The Sheds
Kane Evans was a late withdrawal from the game with a calf strain.
Kerrod Holland came off after 10 minutes, succumbing to a right shoulder injury sustained while scoring the game’s first try.
Will Hopoate came off the field with a bad head-knock and potential injury to his eye socket after a head clash with Zane Tetevano.
Blake Ferguson failed to finish the game. Leaving at the 61th minute with rib cartilage damage.
Sydney Roosters- 28
Tries: Boyd Cordner (16m), Daniel Tupou (25m, 33m), Blake Ferguson (47m), Mitch Aubusson (71m)
Goals: Michael Gordon 4/6
Canterbury Bulldogs- 24
Tries: Kerrod Holland (3m), Josh Morris (11m, 77m), Brett Morris (52m), Adam Elliott (63m)
Goals: Moses Mbye 2/5