The Bulldogs touched up the Roosters in front of a sparse crowd of spoon-waving diehards at ANZ Stadium on Monday evening.
The Eastern Suburbs boys looked like a side counting down to Mad Monday and the Bali holiday. Poor and even disinterested. Maybe it's hard when all you're striving for is to evade the wooden spoon… but getting whacked on the bum with the damned thing must be some sort of rocket.
The Bulldogs weren't at their best but it was still enough to dust these feather dusters.
The Game Swung When… In the 45th minute with his side up 12-4, Brett Kimmorley ripped off a superb 40/20, gifting his side territory on the Roosters' 10-metre line. They didn't score from the immediate set, but they were able to keep field position and pressure, and had soon run in another two tries. Coupled with Hazem El Masri's rather good goal-kicking and you were always going to have a handy buffer. They did and they did.
Who Was Hot… Jamal Idris was a huge handful down the right; when the big fellow gets a head of steam up and gets those big legs pumping he can take on the look of a Clydesdale running about with Shetland ponies. Certainly the Roosters bounced off him like confetti off Frankenstein's bride.
Kimmorley was dangerous with the ball in two hands and running. It's almost like defences can't believe that this little old man would even try to run through their line. But run he can, our Noddy, and he scythed through the line three times, broke seven tackles and laid on two try assists.
Michael Ennis was strong in the middle, David Stagg did some neat things with the ball, scored a try and made a game-high 37 tackles, while Chris Armit (12 runs, 109 metres) made some good yards for his side off the bench.
Josh Morris ran 13 times for 107 metres, and scored a try.
For the Roosters, Shaun Kenny-Dowall did some neat things on the right wing, Craig Fitzgibbon made 31 tackles and 14 runs for 119 metres, and Shane Shackleton made 25 tackles, 14 runs and 106 metres. Iosia Soliola made 31 tackles, a couple that would have hurt.
Who Was Not... In the first 10 minutes, with more possession than the Bulldogs, the Roosters gave up two dumb penalties, a poor play-the-ball and a bad pass, all inside their own territory. Rubbish footy. The one time they had the ball in the 'Dogs 20-metre zone, the ball was grassed. Next set Kimmorley busted the line and Patten had a double, with left centre Setaimata Sa repeatedly leaky in defence.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… Great try by the 'Dogs in the 53rd minute. Kimmorley took the ball and ran around behind the ruck. He threw a pass to Greg Eastwood that everyone thought was going wide to Idris – Idris and Eastwood included. Instead the defence grabbed Idris and the ball popped into the hands of the impressive Eastwood who ran into a hole bigger than the Roosters' odds. Eastwood carted it up field, dummied to Stagg on the inside before throwing a great left-to-right spiral ball to El Masri who ran around and scored his 165th first grade try.
Bad Boys… None.
Refs Watch… Video ref Russell Smith ruled correctly on an obstruction. Whether Stagg was actually stopping Fitzgibbon from tackling Patten is immaterial. He was in the way. And that's all it takes.
Elsewhere Jared Maxwell and Chris James had fine games.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Brett Kimmorley (Bulldogs): Tormented the Roosters with incisive running, pin-point kicking and slick hands; 2 points – Luke Patten (Bulldogs): A brace of tries and constant menace from the elusive no.1; 1 point – David Stagg (Bulldogs): One of those players coaches love: a workhorse with ability. Dallas Johnson's doppelganger.
Bulldogs 28 (L Patten 2, J Morris, H El Masri, D Stagg tries; H El Masri 4 goals) def Sydney Roosters 4 (B Jones try) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 12,298.