Water Cooler: Roosters have NRL's best halves

Amid all of the celebrations of Braith Anasta’s milestone, commiserations in the opposition dressing room for Brett Kimmorley’s, and the drama surrounding coach Brian Smith’s tirade at South Sydney mentor John Lang, one irrefutable outcome from Sunday’s thriller at the Sydney Football Stadium almost snuck under the radar.<br><br>The Sydney Roosters are suddenly serious premiership contenders.<br><br>Sunday’s 36-32 win over Canterbury was the first time in two years that the Roosters have won three games in a row and coincides with a complete reshuffle of the key positions by coach Brian Smith.<br><br>Having been plagued by inconsistency for much of 2010, the Roosters have come to life over the past month with Todd Carney having returned to the halves after starting the year at fullback, Anthony Minichiello heading back to his favourite no.1 jersey and Anasta making his long-awaited move to lock.<br><br>“You don’t want to put too much pressure on yourselves but the fact of the matter is that we’re in a great position now,” Anasta, who played a key role against the Bulldogs, told NRL.com today.<br><br>“We’re confident and we believe that we can definitely make a difference in the competition.<br><br>“For the past month we’ve played consistently well and have come out on top in every game except the Warriors game.<br><br>“All season we’ve been looking for consistency and we’re starting to show that.”<br><br>Anasta said it came as no surprise that the side’s best form had come since Carney and Minichiello, in particular, had returned to their preferred positions.<br><br>Minichiello was back to his best against Canterbury – running for 150 metres and finishing off a brilliant attacking move to score a try in the 17th minute.<br><br>“We’ve found our balance there,” Anasta said. “Mini has come into some great form – he’s been getting better with each game – and Todd has been playing great all year.<br><br> He is a genuine half so moving into five-eighth suits him.<br><br>“Mitchell Pearce is playing fantastic too.<br><br>“Our combinations all over the park are pretty good at the moment.”<br><br>The combination between Pearce and Carney has proved to be particularly devastating, with Carney telling NRL.com that Pearce’s presence alongside has allowed him to focus on his running game.<br><br><a href="http://bigpondvideo.com/nrl/280848/rd19-roosters-v-bulldogs-hls/" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Carney and Peace in action against the Bulldogs.</a><br><br>“Pearcey controls the game a lot more, whereas Braith and I are both running players,” Carney said. “I’m definitely more comfortable at five-eighth.<br><br>“I’ve played there since I was 13 or 14 years old so I’m very comfortable – moreso than I was at fullback.<br><br>“I actually learnt a lot about my five-eighth game from playing at fullback with the way I play – that helped a lot. But it suits me better to be in the halves.<br><br>“The thing for me though has been continuing to get better and fitting in with the way the Roosters play.”<br><br>Pearce and Carney have only combined in the halves three times this season but their impact has been huge. The pair rank first in the NRL in those three games (among halves) for tries (five), line-breaks (four) and tackle-breaks (22) as well as producing four try assists and two line-break assists.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=854&amp;fixtureid=50020101802&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1455" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Carney slice through the Rabbitohs last week.</a><br><br>“We’re definitely getting more comfortable as each week goes on,” Carney said. “It’s about getting used to each other and we’ve been going alright but I think the combination with me, Braith, Jake Friend, Mini and Pearcey is going to be the big one for us.<br><br>“It’s coming along well, which is pretty exciting.”<br><br>The Roosters have now won three close games against Canberra, Souths and the Bulldogs, with Anasta admitting the side’s ability to score points when it matters over the past month has given them a huge confidence boost.<br><br>“It’s been a good year for us so far but we’ve played our best footy the past month or so,” he said.<br><br>“[Brian Smith] has pretty much given everyone free rein to play instinctively and I think you can see that in our attack.<br><br>“There is a lot of confidence at the club at the moment.”<br>