DEFYING the odds and the loss of Big Willie and his mate Nate Myles, the Roosters posted a comprehensive victory over Parramatta in the annual Jack Gibson Cup.
Pretty dud game, to be brutally honest, but then the Roosters’ defence was brutal. One for defensive-line purists.
The Roosters played smart, tough, disciplined rugby league and were superbly led by Craig Fitzgibbon who kicked six from six and out-enthused players with a decade-plus on him. They’re emerging as the Jekyll and Hyde of the NRL, the Roosters, with hot performances like this one and their win in Canberra, bookended by floggings by Souths and Wests Tigers. A tipster’s bogy team.
The Eels are in a similar boat and during this 80 minutes looked bereft of ideas. They didn’t rack the cue – they just couldn’t put any chalk on it. They were certainly bashed out of it by a Roosters pack looking to prove they could get by without their suspended duo.
That the Eels didn’t score a try until the 79th minute – from an intercept – is a fair indication of the competitiveness of this match.
The Game Swung When… In the 8th minute Krisnan Inu put up a kick that went 10 metres over the dead-ball line. At that stage the Roosters were up by six points (after a Sam Perrett try).
Fitzgibbon stretched the Roosters’ lead with two penalty goals until just before half-time Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored the first of his two tries, diving to catch an Anasta cross-kick. Fitzgibbon converted from the sideline and made it 16-0 – and good night nurse.
Who Was Hot… Fitzgibbon was great all over the ground, with his goal-kicking and defence (30 tackles) standing out. Got a big engine, Fitzy, especially when pundits question it.
Mitchell Pearce was effective in attack and his kicking in general play was outstanding. Pearce’s halves’ partner Braith Anasta constantly caused problems for the Eels. How anyone ever thought this bloke was over-rated is one of the Great Mysteries of Our Time.
And Sam Perrett ran for 172 metres with 17 darts.
Up front Mason’s replacement Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Mark O'Meley bent big holes in the line, combining for 205 metres in the 39 and 47 minutes they played respectively.
The Eels were best served by Nathan Hindmarsh (42 tackles, four offloads) who did his usual thing of tackling everything bar the referee.
Lock Feleti Mateo slipped some good last-minute passes as usual (seven offloads), but he needs to do more, more often. A talented footballer, he needs to take games by the scruff of the neck – running, passing, kicking, making opponents worry. When he does, he’ll play Origin.
Who Was Not… When creativity at the line is your problem, it’s usual to look to the No. 7 – and Brett Finch was uninspiring in this fixture. Ran twice, made 10 metres, and ended up as hooker as Daniel Anderson tried to make something – anything – happen. Overall Parra looked the same as last week, with sloppy handling and careless options negating their effectiveness inside the opposition’s 20-metre zone.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… A crowd of 11,000? Were they counting arms instead of heads?
And did Braith Anasta kick off before Tony Archer had blown the whistle for time on? (Yes. Yes he did.)
Bad Boys… None.
Ref Watch… Generally not too many errors from officialdom though the video ref might have ruled on the odd strip.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters): Made 30 tackles and 14 hit-ups in outstanding effort; 2 points – Braith Anasta (Roosters): In the form of his still young life; 1 point – S Kenny-Dowall (Roosters): Two fine tries, saved a 40/20 and rumbled big Eric Grothe Jnr into touch.
Roosters 24 (S Kenny-Dowall 2, S Perrett tries; C Fitzgibbon 6 goals) def Eels 6 (J Hayne try; L Burt goal) at Sydney Football Stadium. Crowd: 11,231.