The Roosters bounced back in a big way against the Sharks, downing them 28-10 at Shark Park.
The first 20 minutes of the game began with the now customary exchanging of penalty goals until the Roosters opened up the try-scoring with Ryan Matterson and Joseph Manu crossing for a 12-2 lead.
The Sharks hit back with a backline shift out to Valentine Holmes but just before half-time, a pinpoint kick from Cronk found Ferguson who popped the ball back mid-air to Matterson for his 2nd try and take an 18-6 lead into half-time.
James Tedesco opened up the scoring in the 2nd half as they isolated Trent Hodkinson in defence one on one. The Sharks were unable to capitalise on the majority of possession they had, save for another try to Holmes before the Roosters put the icing on the cake with a try to Reece Robinson on full-time to claim a commanding 28-10 win.
Merry-go-round of Sharks fullbacks continues
With Josh Dugan a late scratching, Matt Moylan shifted to fullback becoming the third person to play in the position since the start of the season. He had some good touches, making a line-break and setting up a try for Holmes but he also had a few rough moments with errors and average kicks as well.
Moylan much like the Sharks team as a whole has struggled to settle in but there were some positive signs that he can combine well in attack with Holmes as they shared the fullback role throughout the night. With Dugan likely to return next week, the 1 jersey is set to switch again as the Sharks hope to settle on a line-up.
Sharks lacking line-up stability and cohesion in attack
The fullback dilemma has taken it’s toll on the Sharks attack as the constant swapping and changing of key positions hasn’t helped them settle into a rhythm. Despite 56% possession and 4 linebreaks to 1, they were still soundly beaten by the Roosters, who were able to take their chances where the Sharks couldn’t.
The Sharks now sit equal 14th for points scored. They’ve won two out of their past three games but have only scored a solitary try in each of them. It’s still early days yet but as their performance against the Roosters demonstrated, they could only get away with grinding out wins on defence and penalty goals for so long.
Roosters halves put on kicking masterclass
With the Roosters behind in just about every major attacking stat for the match, they were still able to triumph over the Sharks due to a stellar performance from their halves.
The kicking game of Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk made all the difference with 4 of their 5 tries delivered from their boot. Keary made a daring grubber on zero tackle for Manu to score with a last minute kick to the left flank gifting Robinson a try while Cronk’s pinpoint kicks to the right flank resulted in both of Matterson’s tries.
The Roosters needed to up their game after suffering an embarrassing defeat to the Warriors and the halves duo of Keary and Cronk responded well by taking control against the Sharks.
Roosters forwards respond to criticism
Heading into Round 5, the Roosters were the only team to lack a forward that ran for an average of 100m or more per game. Boyd Cordner led the way in trying to change that as he ran for a game high 182 metres.
After getting dominated by the Warriors pack last week, they stood up and set a high standard with their completion rate. Less turnover of possession allowed the Roosters to maintain control and freed up Keary and Cronk to work their magic which is something coach Robinson wants to see on a consistent basis.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“I’ve got both sides there to choose from. Coops is sort of option one and Luke was really good at getting my ear tonight and I thought he came up with some really good kicks. That last one was pin-point. Some good stuff there for us, and looking forward to building on it next week.” – Roosters captain Jake Friend commenting on the kicking performance of his halves.
“It’s 80 minutes, I feel like we went 74-75 tonight. There’s some bits there that we want to improve on” – Roosters coach Trent Robinson on how he believed his side should have finished stronger, coughing up two errors late in the game.
“It is frustrating at the moment. We competed pretty well tonight, our ill-discipline cost us” – Sharks coach Shane Flanagan on his disappointment the Sharks haven’t been able to rein in the penalty counts.
“The Roosters like set starts, we gave them too many set starts. We wanted to go set for set with them but we couldn’t do that. A lot of the damage was done in the first half” – Sharks captain Paul Gallen on how the numerous 4th and 5th tackle penalties they gave away cost them.
Tries: Ryan Matterson (20m, 39m), Joseph Manu (25m), James Tedesco (50m), Reece Robinson (79m)
Goals: Latrell Mitchell 4/7
Tries: Valentine Holmes (31m, 70m)
Goals: Chad Townsend 1/3