The Roosters reclaimed the NRL Premiership lead after Latrell Mitchell starred in the 42-12 win over the Wests Tigers at the SCG.
Mitchell was literally involved in everything in the first half for the Roosters, slotting home an early penalty from right in front, and then scored the first in the 14th minute when he ran 60 metres down the left touchline, even stopping to look for support before finishing off with a fine swan dive.
The Tigers hit back in the 25th minute, when fill-in five eighth – and former Rooster – Ryan Matterson scored as first receiver from a scrum 20 metres from the Roosters line. At 6-6 the Tigers looked lively and competitive.
But an error from the Tigers on the first tackle 10 metres out was punished as Daniel Tupou scored after going through the hands down the left, and a fine rapid catch and pass from Mitchell to Tupou as a looming Mahe Fonua infield mission missed. Not long after, Mitchell ran off a fine run from Tedesco to bust through some Tigers tacklers and put on a delicate grubber for Keary to recover. The Roosters lead 18-6 at half time.
Robbie Farah tightened the game up just after the break, scoring with ease from dummy half from a metre out. But it was as close as the Tigers would get as five minutes later Moses Mbye misjudged a bomb and Sitili Tupouniua caught on the full and who else but Mitchell was on hand for the final pass.
Nat Butcher scored his first ever NRL try not long after a fine Cooper Cronk dummy, and Mitchell put the game beyond doubt a few minutes later with a 70 metre intercept.
The Tigers kept trying until the end, but sadly were denied any further points; the Roosters has time for one more as Boyd Cordner collected a perfect Keary kick for yet another try assist.
Roosters can break the back-to-back NRL hoodoo
There have been some very good teams in the NRL over the past few decades, but none of them have been good enough to win back-to-back NRL titles, but you get the feeling that this Roosters side just might be.
It helps to have a player like Mitchell in full flight, but they have quality all over the park. As seen in previous weeks, they have a willing batch of young players just waiting to impress when they get the chance. And they do impress.
Keary tops the try assists statistics, Cronk runs a game like no other (even without the use of a shoulder in grand finals) and Sio Siua Taukeiaho is one of this season’s finest props. Not to mention Blues stars Tedesco and Cordner. Not even losing Jake Friend for a half a season halts their momentum as Victor Radley is at least his equal.
Their wins are built around the first 40 minutes where the Roosters have conceded just 5 tries and 30 points in the eight games so far. The only team to score twice against them in the first half this season was the Rabbitohs, who are currently the only team to beat the Roosters.
In truth the Tigers weren’t that far away tonight, but every time the Tigers looked like they were going to trouble the Roosters they offered up a half chance which the Roosters took.
They say it is sometimes better to be lucky than good. The Roosters are both in 2019.
Latrell Mitchell has a night out
Is it coincidental that Mitchell has stepped up a gear this season since the retirement of Greg Inglis?
He was simply sensational against the Tigers tonight, scoring three tries, setting up more, and even saving tries late in the game to prove he wants to be a feature in the match at all times.
Hard to pick his best effort with the ball tonight. His 60 metre effort for his first try showed all the speed, skill and confidence that is making him one the competition’s very best. His catch and pass to Tupou’s try was sublime, and even better was the kick assist for Keary’s try after another bustling charge up the middle. Throw in a 70 metre intercept, and backing up at the right time for another try and really was in everything good for the Roosters.
He was denied a fourth try when Cordner beat him to the late Keary kick, but still entertained with an off-the-ball swan dive for no good reason.
His goal kicking is an underrated asset to any side as well. He really does it all at the moment.
Queensland should be very, very worried.
Is Mitchell Aubusson the most useful player in the NRL?
Mitchel Aubusson started at centre for the clash against the Tigers, yet another time the Roosters Mr Fixit has filled in.
Every time the Roosters have a hole, Aubusson is the little Dutch boy who ensures it can be covered, be it in the backline or forwards.
Whilst he may not top any stats, you get the feeling when fit, he is one name you’d expect coach Trent Robinson to pencil in each week at team selection.
Wests Tigers wingers underrated
Talking of underrated, wingers are rarely applauded in the NRL unless they are scoring tries, often needing a diving try avoiding the touch line spectacularly to get many plaudits, but there’s enjoyment to be had, and respect to be given for both of the Tigers wingers.
Fonua gets plenty of attention for his outstanding hairstyle, and he got plenty last weekend for his triple try effort against the Titans. But he is more than hair and the occasional hat trick, every run is with purpose, and he is right at the top of total metres for wingers this season.
Corey Thompson is against the modern type of winger, giving up plenty of height to his opposite numbers, but not heart. His post contact metres is right up there for a winger as most of the ones ahead of him are much larger individuals.
With Mbye having a mixed night at the back, the two wingers did a good job.
Worth a mention too were the halves for the Tigers; Luke Brooks tried hard throughout and Matterson did a great job standing in at five eighth.
Goals: Mitchell 7/8
Wests Tigers 12
Tries: Ryan Matterson, Robbie Farah
Goals: Esan Marsters 2/2
Sydney Roosters: 1 James Tedesco 2 Daniel Tupou 3 Latrell Mitchell 17 Mitchell Aubusson 4 Joseph Manu 6 Luke Keary 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9 Victor Radley 10 Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11 Boyd Cordner 12 Angus Crichton 13 Isaac Liu
Wests Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye 2 Mahe Fonua 3 Robert Jennings 4 Esan Marsters 5 Corey Thompson 11 Ryan Matterson 7 Luke Brooks 8 Ben Matulino 9 Robbie Farah 10 Alex Twal 14 Elijah Taylor 12 Chris McQueen 13 Josh Aloiai