NRL | The Roosters early season roll to the top — are they the real deal?

Photo by Michael Coghlan / CC BY-SA.20The Sydney Roosters have rolled through the league slate in dominant style over the first nine bouts of the 2019 NRL season. Coach Trent Robinson and his scrappy squad are 8-0-1, with 16 points as of 16 May.

The show so far is good for second place on the NRL ladder behind the Melbourne Storm, a team temporarily bolstered by one more games on the books.

But don’t let the day-to-day snapshot of the leaderboard fool you. Sydney planted its flag at the top early on and refuses to budge.

And that’s the plan. The current and future status of the Roosters is falling exactly in line with a club destined to prevail with the title. Sydney sits in first place in the standings, and Oddschecker favours the Roosters to win the Grand Final.

Here’s a look at how the Roosters have climbed the ladder to the top of the league and how their upcoming rounds might shake out as we head to the mid-season mark.

Setting Off in Style

The Roosters’ lone loss for the year came in the season opener against foundation rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs on 15 March at SCG. Offside penalties and handling errors hampered both teams early, and the Rabbitohs edged into half time with a slim 12-10 advantage. South Sydney took the reins during the second half and closed the book on the Roosters with a 26-16 final score.

The Tri-Colours quickly found traction and rounded out the first month of the young NRL season in fine form. A 26-18 handling of Manly Warringah Sea Eagles on 23 March and a 32-18 win over Parramatta Eels on 29 March showcased the increasingly-dangerous Sydney squad. The Roosters, Rabbitohs, and Storm became locked in a dance at the top, and little has changed since.

The Roosters were geared up for a slaughter when Brisbane entered SCG on 4 April.

Perhaps sparked by the return of Cooper Cronk following a two-week sideline stint with a hamstring injury, Sydney got the scoring on early with winger Matt Ikuvalu crossing over the corner in the 8th minute. Angus Crichton pounded home a try, his first in a Roosters uniform, and Sydney was up 10-0 after 15 minutes.

In all, the Roosters’ seven tries to the Broncos’ one was good enough for a 36-4 routing.

The fireworks continued as Sydney bested the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 30-16 at PointsBet Stadium on 13 April.

In a rematch of the 2018 Grand Final contest, Sydney headed to Melbourne Rectangular Stadium for a Round 6 showdown with the Storm on 19 April.

The Roosters cruised early, building up a 20-0 lead thanks to tries from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and James Tedesco. It looked like Sydney would put away their ladder-top nemesis until Josh Addo-Carr turned in a late first-half try in the 38th minute. Tui Kamikamica and Curtis Scott resumed Melbourne’s scoring party in the second half with tries in the 48th and 51st minutes, respectively.

The contest headed to golden point with the score drawn at 20 at the end of regulation. Sitili Tupouniua delivered a timely 40-metre run to set up Latrell Mitchell’s incredible match-winning field goal. And just like that, the Roosters handed the Storm an instant 21-20 loss.

The drama subsided for Sydney’s next match, a Round 7 meeting in the friendly confines of SCG with The St. George Illawarra Dragons. The Roosters toppled the Dragons 20-10 in the 25 April contest, with tries from Crichton, Mitchell, and Sio Siua Taukeiaho.

The Anzac Day win put Sydney at 6-0-1, the club’s best start to an NRL season in 20 years.


Photo by Mdmanser / CC BY-SA 3.0

More of the Same in May

As the calendar turned to May, there was no change to the Roosters’ winning ways.

The Tri-Colours welcomed West Tigers to SCG on 4 May, quickly trouncing their visitors in a 42-12 bloodbath. Mitchell was unstoppable, delivering a hat-trick of tries, while Daniel Tupou, Luke Keary, Nat Butcher, and Boyd Cordner also joined the scoring act for Sydney.

The Roosters’ most recent tick in the W column came against a tough Canberra Raiders team in Round 9 on 12 May. Sydney outlasted the fourth-place Raiders for a 30-24 victory at Suncorp Stadium after a mostly silent second half.

Driving Ahead Towards Mid-Season

The near-road ahead promises to be a defining stretch for the Roosters as the squad seeks to prove this hot start is no fluke. Rounds 10 through 14 see Sydney battling lesser opponents, at least on paper. The club has a bye in Round 12.

Of course, each victory is earned the hard way in the NRL, and the Roosters are always susceptible to upsets.

Sydney remains on the road for the season’s second match against Brisbane on 17 May. The Broncos, who are currently perched in eleventh place, are coming off a 36-6 loss to the Rabbitohs in Round 8 and a 26-10 edge over the Sea Eagles in Round 9.

The road-tripping Roosters pull into McDonald Jones Stadium for a Round 11 bout with the Newcastle. The hot-handed Knights have been unbeaten in their previous four contests, outscoring their opponents 86 to 42.

Sydney will have their work cut out for them if Newcastle continues to halve adversaries.

The Roosters carry a significant advantage in Round 13 against the fifteenth-place Penrith Panthers and in Round 14 versus the cellar-dwelling Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Sydney once again meets Melbourne in Round 15. The 28 June clash at Adelaide Oval could shape up as the Roosters’ most critical match through the remainder of the season. Will the 2018 finale rematch become the 2019 Grand Finals preview?

The battle for a second consecutive NRL Grand Finals win will be mighty. Sydney can’t afford any prolonged lapses. But there’s no reason to think that the Roosters won’t continue their bulletproof ways.

While a little less than two-thirds of this year’s NRL campaign remains unplayed, Sydney’s performance through Round 9 makes a convincing case that the boys from the Eastern Suburbs aren’t going anywhere.



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