Shaun Kenny-Dowall takes on the defence in the Roosters' superhero-themed clash with the Dragons on Saturday night. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Considering the Roosters 2013 premiership win was founded on a Bondi Wall that leaked just over two tries a game, Trent Robinson knows how strange it is to praise a defensive performance in which they conceded almost double that number.
But that's exactly what the Chooks coach did in the wake of his side's five tries to four, 30-22 hard-fought win over the Dragons on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.
And not without good reason, for the defending premiers had to make an extra 60 tackles than their counterparts, and contend with a Dragons team that outpointed them in almost every statistic except the one that matters most; the final score.
Dominated in the possession stakes 45 per cent to 55, completing just 21 sets to the red and whites' 32, outrun 1600 metres to 1394 and dusted 7-2 when it came to line breaks, Robinson was understandably proud of the defensive mettle his side demonstrated in repeatedly turning away the Dragons star-studded backline.
"I wouldn't often say this, [after conceding] 22 points, but I thought it was a really good defensive performance from us," Robinson said.
"I thought they threw a lot – changed angles, short kicks, long balls. They had lots of different plays on us and I thought our line stood up well for most of it.
"[There's] still a fair bit to work on there, and I don't think it's often I'll say that I thought it was a very good defensive performance with that many points against but I thought the boys really stood up there."
Winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, more famous for his dancing feet than bone-jarring defence, came in for special praise for a try-saver on opposite number Brett Morris.
With the visitors surging and the Roosters 18-10 lead looking anything but solid midway through the second-half, Tuivasa-Sheck pulled off a reprisal of Morris' own Origin I heroics when he first stopped the flying international in his tracks, and then bundled him into touch when the scorers had all-but marked it down in the book.
"That was a huge play for us. They skinned us for numbers a bit and then Morris, he’s obviously one of the best wingers in the game," Robinson said.
"He scores those tries. It was a great defensive play from Roger. They’re the match winners for us.
"He did a really good job there and also Shaun Kenny-Dowall came up with a really big play on that right edge as well.
"They’re really important moments in a team to come up with those. We’ve probably had less than more of those lately but I thought we had quite a few moments tonight where the guys came up with big defensive plays."
The win pushes the Roosters back into the top four ahead of the Bulldogs on for and against, but Robinson said while the win was crucial in terms of cementing the Tri-Colours position on the ladder, he was most pleased with the manner in which it was achieved.
"Obviously points-wise the win was important," Robinson said.
"But it was important for us to play some footy, to play our style of footy and defend well.
"We had to get our footy going and that was a step. It wasn't spectacular, but we felt like that was a step in the right direction. That was an important win in that context for us."