Julian Vella reviews this Saturday night clash between the Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters.
Tries: Brayden Musgrove (29)
Tries: Daniel Tupou (5), Josh Morris (10, 62, 78), Angus Crichton (15), Matt Ikuvalu (19), Sam Walker (54)
Goals: Sam Walker (7, 20, 56, 63, 79)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Sam Walker (Sydney Roosters)
2 pts – Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters)
1 pt – Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
After Newcastle came out of the sheds firing with a big crowd cheering them on, the Roosters absorbed the early pressure and on the back of a six again and penalty they made the Knights pay as Daniel Tupou scored after getting on the end of a beautiful cut-out pass from rookie halfback Sam Walker.
The Knights’ right side defence has been leaky all season, so it was no surprise the Roosters went there once again looking for their second try. After a poor end to their set the Knights again gave the Roosters good field position, and after Kurt Mann failed to collect a loose ball from a kick the Roosters made them pay. Once again it was Walker and Tupou linking up, this time to put veteran Josh Morris over in the corner.
The Roosters were all the over the Knights who were their own worst enemy; once again they turned over possession cheaply as co-captain Daniel Saifiti dropped a simple ball, putting his side under extreme pressure again. As the Roosters stretched the Knights’ defence, Walker again came up with the killer play, sighting Kalyn Ponga out of position he put through a left-foot chip kick into the Knights’ in-goal. Knights’ centre Enari Tuala – who was having a rough night already – failed to clean up the ball, giving away another cheap try, this time to Angus Crichton.
The Roosters were racing the clock and they were keeping up as again they crossed for another try; this time it was winger Matt Ikuvalu who scored after he out-jumped his opposite number and batted the ball to captain Brett Morris, who in turn found Ikuvalu to cross the line. The Roosters were out to a 20-0 lead, silencing a packed crowd who were left stunned.
The Knights finally decided to hold onto the ball for a few minutes which resulted in some decent field position; after the Roosters made an unforced error of their own, the Knights crossed for their first points of the game. It was the fifth tackle, but Ponga decided to run the ball and threw a lovely cut-out pass to find Brayden Musgrove in the corner for his first NRL try.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 4 Sydney Roosters 20Embed from Getty Images
The Roosters started the second half like they finished the first, asleep at the wheel, and with the help from a questionable call from the referee Matt Cecchin the Knights were on the attack early, applying the blowtorch to the Roosters. But the difference between the two sides is that the Roosters defended their errors and were able to repel the Knights’ attach, which was disjointed at best.
The Knights continued to try hard, but the Roosters always seemed in control and it seemed they could score whenever they felt like it. They finally got back in the mood in the 56th minute as they moved the ball from left to right with ease as Walker finished off some brilliant lead play from Brett Morris and Ikuvalu to score under the posts.
The Roosters were in again not too long after as Victor Radley made a break up the middle of the ruck after a late offload from Siosiua Taukeiaho. Radley then found Walker who again came up with the right play at the right time as he put in a neat cross-field kick for Josh Morris to bag his second try of the night. Morris scored again to complete his hat-trick, again off another Walker kick, to rub more salt into the gaping wounds of the hapless Knights.
A great night for the Sydney Roosters ended on a sour note with Queensland Origin prop Lindsay Collins suffering a knee injury in the 73rd minute. He looked to be in a lot of pain, as if he knew it was a bad injury; he was joined a few minutes later by Brett Morris, who also went down with what looked like a serious knee injury.
Apart from that Roosters coach Trent Robinson would have been very happy with his side’s performance considering how many players they were missing. Newcastle themselves are missing a lot of players, but Adam O’Brien must be thinking he has a big job ahead of him to turn his side’s fortunes around. The fact the Roosters only had eleven players on the field when they scored their final try is nothing less than embarrassing for the Knights, who showed little fight and little pride.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 4 Sydney Roosters 38
Lindsay Collins (Roosters) – suspected ACL
Brett Morris (Roosters) – suspected ACL
Blake Green (Knights) – ribs
Match Review Committee
Sitili Tupouniua (Roosters) – Grade 1 Shoulder Charge – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban.
Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters) – Grade 1 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Guilty Plea $1700 fine.