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Roosters adjust to speed of 2014

Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent NRL.com Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - 11:30 PM

Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce tries to offload during his side's Saturday night clash against the Sharks at Remondis Stadium. Copyright: Grant Trouville

Roosters coach Trent Robinson says his side has adjusted to the faster pace of the NRL this season after watching his side find their attacking mojo in a 24-18 victory over the Sharks on Saturday night.

Halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney returned to form, while wingers Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Kenny-Dowall came up with several highlight reel plays – almost all of them from their own half – to help snap the three-game slide that had the defending premiers sitting outside the top eight at the start of the Easter weekend.

"We needed to win. We definitely needed to win. We needed to get that feeling again," Robinson said.

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"We played some really good footy tonight. We played some footy tonight that we probably weren't happy with definitely. But winning was vital for us tonight."

And a big reason for that was his side's ability to adapt to the quicker speed of the game over the opening six weeks of the season.

Asked whether he had anticipated such a frenetic match against the cellar-dwellers, Robinson said: "The way that some of the games have been going, definitely.

"I think it was a 5-2 penalty count, so it was really low. So if you wanted to play some footy out of your own half, you needed to move the ball, if you wanted some opportunities to score some points.

"I think that's what we're seeing, we're seeing some teams chance their hand, moving the ball. And that was the footy we got. We're adapting, playing some better footy in that from us. I thought the outside backs did a great job tonight, returning the ball. So nice to win."

Kenny-Dowall, who played on the left wing in place of the injured Daniel Tupou, scored two tries and ran 263 metres, including a 90-metre runaway try off a wayward Todd Carney cross-field kick.

Tuivasa-Sheck, who continued his on-field apprenticeship at fullback by switching with Anthony Minichiello during the game, ran for almost 200 metres, set up three line breaks, as well as two tries – including the execution of an Olympic-style pirouette to put Maloney away in the first half.

"Their footwork is just unbelievable," said Minichiello.

"We see it at training, so it was great to see it on the field tonight. Roger's one to set up the try there for Jimmy was unbelievable. It was outstanding.

"I thought Skiddy (Kenny-Dowall) and Jenko (Michael Jennings), they teamed up well and were rolling on that left edge there tonight."

Robinson was also relieved by the return to form of his Origin halves pairing in Maloney and Pearce, with the latter executing the match-winning play for Kenny-Dowall in the 71st minute.

Maloney in particular had come under heavy criticism during the week for his alarming drop off in form but came up with a solid display against the Sharks.

"Much better," Robinson said of Maloney's performance.

"Much simpler tonight. I thought, nice passes, some really good support play and some simple kicking. I thought he just packaged his game up really well. Good early run there to start the game. So I thought that was a real step forward for Jimmy.

"I think the criticism's been warranted on us. We lost three in a row, even though we've had some really big games. I think every team that we've played have played really well. So I think the criticism of our team, or the questions more so about our team's been warranted.

"And you're naturally going to go to the halves in that when it's really close. But I like the way all the guys shouldered the blame and said basically don't pick on Jimmy. It's all of us, right from coaches to players. So good response from him."