The Sydney Roosters were far too good for a Wests Tigers outfit lacking polish and cohesion in a 30-6 win at Allianz Stadium on Friday night in front of 16,024 fans.
There were some uncharacteristic errors from both sides, particularly in a poor first half that would have pleased neither coach, but once the Roosters found some semblance of their attacking spark the Tigers couldn't stay with them.
The match would have pleased NSW coach Laurie Daley, with blues incumbents Michael Jennings and James Maloney not only getting through the match unscathed after coming into the game under injury clouds, but also returning to something like their best footy.
Jennings earned a double, as did Origin hopeful Daniel Tupou, whose claims for a sky blue jumper are growing close to irresistible, while another pair of Blues incumbents in Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner rounded out the try-scoring list.
A remarkably scrappy first half was punctuated by handling errors, forwards passes, poor kicks and broken down attacking plays, but it was the home side that caught fire shortly before half-time to take a 14-0 lead into the break.
Their first points came via a powerful try to towering winger Tupou. In the 10th minute a Sonny Bill Williams offload put Jake Friend into space, and a few quick offloads moved the ball to Tupou who found himself in space on the left flank. With only diminutive Tigers fullback Kurtis Rowe between himself and the line, he chose to take the "too big too strong" approach and steamrolled over the top of his man to score in the corner.
The 20 minutes that followed produced a coach-killing avalanche of errors, with both the Tigers (eight) and Roosters (seven) closing in on their average full match error tally by the break.
Perhaps sensing the half-time spray they were about to incur, the Roosters picked their act up as half time approached, and everything they did had a New South Wales flavour to it.
A 35th-minute line break from James Maloney off some good lead up work from Boyd Cordner and a quality Williams pass allowed him to send centre Jennings streaking away under the posts, and when Sitaleki Akauola fumbled a tricky Maloney grubber three minutes later, a Mitchell Pearce pass to Maloney allowed the pivot to send Tupou away for his double.
Maloney missed a second conversion – both misses coming from the left touch line – as his side took a 14-0 lead to the break.
The Tigers needed to be first to score in the second half and almost did it in their first set, surging downfield off the back of a few huge runs, but lost it at the Roosters line only to see Roger Tuivasa-Sheck pick it up and sprint away. It was only a fantastic chase from Brooks that reined him in but the Roosters scored shortly after anyway – and again it was off a Tigers mistake.
Akauola looked to force a pass around 20 metres out from the Tigers line which Rowe couldn't handle and Jennings was on hand to scoop it up and streak away for his second, Maloney stretching the lead to 20 from right in front.
Watch the NRL LIVE with a 2-week free trial.
Get the NRL Digital Pass now!
Jennings almost produced a carbon copy try from inside his own half, again swooping on a Tigers dropped ball, but wasn't able to evade Rowe who did well backing away to stay between Jennings and the tryline.
A few attacking chances went begging for the Roosters thereafter – most notably when a Jared Waerea-Hargreaves short ball sent Williams into space. With Pearce backing up it was a try for all money but the pass was slightly in front of Pearce who lifted his eyes to check what was in front of him at the wrong second and fumbled the free four-pointer.
The next points came 10 minutes out from fulltime when the visitors finally got on the board when a cheeky Brooks grubber close to the line was dived on by Chris Lawrence, who – with no Robbie Farah or Braith Anasta and stand-in skipper Liam Fulton ruled out on match-day with a back complaint – was making his captaincy debut along with Aaron Woods.
With Pat Richard off the field during the final 15 minutes for a concussion check after ill-advisedly running into the concrete shoulder of Sam Moa, Austin added the extras from almost in front.
Normal service was resumed shortly thereafter when Rowe spilled a towering Maloney bomb and Pearce was on hand to clean it up, beating a couple of defenders on a short run to the line. Maloney shot the easier chance to stretch the lead to 30-6 as the match wound down to full time.
Sydney Roosters 30 (Tupou 2, Jennings 2, Cordner, Pearce tries; Maloney 3 goals) def Wests Tigers 6 (Lawrence try; Austin goal). Halftime: Roosters 14-0. Crowd 16,024.