Roosters sloppy in execution but resolute on defence
It wasn’t the most convincing of wins for the Roosters for the second week in a row. Their defence was top quality and reflective of a Top 2 side. Their ability to complete attacking sets and capitalize on opportunities, not so much.
There were more tries that looked like certainties but the Roosters found a way to bomb them. When Mitchell Aubusson busted through the line on a break he only had Valentine Holmes to beat one on one while he was charging full steam ahead. Instead he was too generous and threw a ball out to the wing that Ferguson bumbled.
What possession they had in the 2nd half they often gifted right back. Ferguson dropped the ball off a 20m restart, Pearce dropped the ball off a linebreak in open space and they invited the Sharks to come get them with an 8-5 penalty count.
Despite all that the Roosters found a way to win. Grinding out a win in ugly fashion allowed the Roosters to out-Sharks the Sharks but there is a lot of improvement to be made.
Sharks toothless in attack
With a Top 4 finish to play for, the Sharks put in a disappointing effort that saw them put in a mediocre offensive showing.
At one point they had 70% of possession in the 2nd half which they couldn’t capitalize on for. They weren’t able to score until Luke Keary got himself sin binned in the last 8 minutes. Before that they didn’t look like firing a single shot against the Roosters defence.
Roosters secure second chance but is it all academic?
In a clash between two Top 4 calibre teams, the quality of the game told a story about the greater premiership race as a whole. That story is simple. Only injuries or a fluke by another team on their day can stop the Storm from winning the premiership.
The Sharks have the worst completion rate in the NRL and concede the most penalties yet were 2 points behind claiming 4th spot. Meanwhile the Roosters were error prone and wildly inconsistent but claimed outright 2nd spot.
It wasn’t much of a quality game in which the victorious side only completed at 65% while committing 15 errors. Those are the kind of stats that would have them slaughtered in a finals match.
At this stage every team ranked 2-8 is fighting for the right to claim runner-up position.
Sharks title defence in tatters
The Sharks chances of a Top 4 finish are now partly out of their hands. Even if they win next week, they’ll have to rely on the Rabbitohs defeating the Eels in order to climb back into the Top 4.
Having to rely on other results for a favourable outcome is never much of a good sign. Their dominant home record of 2016 has completely turned on it’s head in 2017 and now they’re paying the price for it.
At their best they have proven they’re still title contenders. They are just one of two teams this year to defeat the Storm with their full strength spine on the field. However they’ve just been too poor in consistent execution that they’ll continue the long standing trend of no team going back to back in the last 19 years.
In The Sheds
Wade Graham came off the field with a cork in his right calf and didn’t return
Sydney Roosters- 16
Tries: Isaac Liu (16m), Blake Ferguson (27m)
Goals: Michael Gordon 4/5
Cronulla Sharks- 14
Tries: Valentine Holmes (32m), Luke Lewis (72m)
Goals: James Maloney 3/3