In a match plagued with injuries and Origin ramifications, the Roosters made a case for their premiership credentials with a commanding 32-6 win over the Panthers.
The Roosters opened up the match at lightning fast pace. Within the first 14 minutes they were up 18-0 and had all the possession. The Panthers hit back the first chance they got. Their first set on the Roosters goal-line produced a try to Dean Whare. It what was an unusually soft try in what was poor defence from both sides in the opening exchanges.
That was to be the end of the Panthers account for the night though. A couple of injury scares halted the momentum of the game as the Roosters added 2 tries to their tally in the second half.
Injuries send NSW and QLD for a spin
Both Freddy Fittler and Kevin Walters would have been watching the match in horror as their rep players went down like flies.
Latrell Mitchell was taken from the field in a medicab in frightening scenes after a tackle gone awry from Nathan Cleary. Fortunately scans have cleared him of any serious injury. A stiff neck for the next few days is all he’ll have to put up with.
Napa came off the field early with a high ankle injury that threatens to stretch QLD’s already decreasing depth of front-row stocks. For NSW Reagan Campbell-Gillard suffered a broken jaw which has been confirmed to rule him out for 4 to 6 weeks.
Even former Origin players weren’t able to avoid the carnage with Blake Ferguson limping off the field towards the end of the match. Also of concern was Corey Harawira-Naera who has been struggling with a groin injury for a number of weeks. This is likely to see him excluded from the NZ test in Denver.
Roosters finally start to click
All season long have the Roosters been waiting for the week where everything magically gelled and they delivered a consistent performance from beginning to end. Against the Panthers that’s exactly what they produced.
Victor Radley was a handful for the Panthers to contain early. He set up the first try for Ferguson after backing up at dummy half from a Manu intercept. Moments later a deft pass from him on the run found Keary who put Liu into a gap for their second. His influence led to the Roosters dominating the scoreboard in the first quarter and the Panthers couldn’t recover.
Their dominance was also reflected on the stat sheet with 67% of total possession and making just 263 tackles in comparison to the 426 that the Panthers made.
Waerea-Hargreaves monster performance gets Chooks home
With the injuries they sustained throughout the match. Waerea-Hargreaves was called upon to play out the full 80 minutes and he answered with a near career best performance. He ran for 244m from 26 hit-ups and made 39 tackles in a non-stop effort in attack and defence.
Panthers well off the pace
While the injury to Campbell-Gillard didn’t help their chances, the Panthers were off the mark from the beginning. As one of the two best defensive sides in the NRL, conceding 18 points that quickly was atrocious.
The duo of Maloney and Cleary that had steered them around well the last few weeks went missing and were unable to have any impact on the final result. Blunders like a bombed try by Tyrone Phillips would have hurt to watch as well. With an open try-line in front of him, Phillips strangely didn’t dive for the line to score a try that nearly any other winger in the comp could have.
They still sit clear in the Top 4 but the stats could be a worry. The Panthers have faced a Top 8 side just 4 times throughout the season and they’ve come away with a 2/2 record. They’ve shown great resilience to play so well in spite of their long injury list. It might start to catch up with them if this game was any indication.
Tries: Blake Ferguson (5m, 53m), Isaac Liu (8m), Zane Tetevano (14m), Daniel Tupou (70m)
Goals: Latrell Mitchell 4/4 Blake Ferguson 2/2
Tries: Dean Whare (17m)
Goals: James Maloney 1/1