2010 SEASON REVIEW: Sydney Roosters

After regular season
WINS: 14
LOSSES: 10
POSITION: 6th
HOME RECORD: 6 wins, 6 losses (Equal 10th)
AWAY RECORD: 8 wins, 4 losses (Equal 1st)

After Finals
Won 19-15 v Wests Tigers in Week One, won 34-12 v Panthers in Week Two, won 32-6 v Titans in Week Three, lost 32-8 v Dragons in Grand Final to finish premiership runners-up.

BEST WINNING STREAK: 5 (Rounds 17-21) Equal 1st
LONGEST LOSING STREAK: 3 (Rounds 22-24) Equal 4th
PLAYERS USED: 29
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Yet to be announced
TRIES SCORED: 98 (Equal 3rd)
TRIES CONCEDED: 90 (seventh fewest)

The Chooks are crowing, and they have every right to. After running dead last in 2009 with a horror year both on and off the field, there’s been a massive turnaround at Bondi – and before NRL fans knew it, they’d laid claim to becoming one of the dominant forces in the 2010 competition.

Falling just 40 minutes short of premiership glory, the Roosters were consistently one of the most exciting teams in the competition. Far from counting the season as a disappointment, the Roosters achieved a whole lot more than they bargained for and shook up the competition more than any other team in 2010.

Where They Excelled… Attack, attack, attack! The Roosters top all the attacking statistics in the competition. Ranked third for tries and points scored with an average of 23.3 points per game, they were also the most likely to create something from nothing, averaging 5.2 line-breaks every time they took the field.

They were one of the most exciting teams to watch all year, and as a testament to the strength of the people in the club, their turnaround from wooden spooners to grand finalists will go down as one of the best stories in rugby league. Ever.

Where They Struggled… The Roosters had an almost comical win/loss ratio at the beginning of the year, after winning their first two back-to-back. From there, they lost almost half of their games until they unearthed their golden period from Round 17, which saw them come from nowhere to embark on a five-game winning streak. Defence was a minor problem; they tended to rely on scoring more points than their oppositions rather than trying to limit the tries scored against them.

The Roosters missed an average of 34.4 tackles per game, a slightly higher than normal amount compared to the more defensive sides in the competition.

Missing In Action… Brian Smith’s sweep into the coaching role left a couple of players that were part of the squad in 2008 and 2009 by the wayside. James Aubusson only managed to play 10 games this season, whilst young gun Ben Jones, who played 21 games in 2009, only strung together five under Smith. Otherwise, the Roosters were lucky to field a fairly healthy roster in 2010, with the only person in the casualty ward at the end of the year being young second-rower Anthony Cherrington.

Turning Point… It was the midpoint of the season and the Roosters had struggled to put two together – and after a complete trouncing at the hands of the Sharks, they found themselves travelling to the newly unveiled AAMI Park to take on the still-powerful Storm in Round 14.

It was game everyone thought they would lose, but as luck would have it, a Roosters team that was ready to stamp their authority on the competition turned up. Braith Anasta had a hand in two tries, a line-break and a line-break assist; Todd Carney took away a line-break assist and two try assists; and Kane Linnett scored a great try on debut. The Roosters went on to win 38-6, running rings around the Storm and using the game to lay a foundation for their five-game winning streak which kicked off a couple of weeks later.

Best Games… Two games during the regular season come to mind – in Rounds 20 and 21, the Roosters beat the red-hot Eels and Broncos and put the rest of the competition on notice.

The Eels were starting to make what looked like a run, and in front of a sell-out Parramatta Stadium crowd, the Roosters put on a show of razzle-dazzle football.

Against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, they just got out of jail with four tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowall, and did extremely well to grab a win in front of a vocal Queensland crowd.

In the finals series, their game against the Tigers will go down as one of the most memorable ever, the 100th-minute win giving them a heap of confidence going into the second week of finals footy, where they blitzed the Panthers and the Titans.

Worst Games… It looked like 2010 might head the same way as 2009 when the Roosters let the Bulldogs put 60 on them on a hot autumn afternoon in Round 3. There were also two losses to the Sharks, who finished 14th on the ladder. Cronulla patiently defended the Roosters both times, and showed that you could frustrate their playmakers into some poor decisions.

Hold Your Head High… Pretty much everyone in the Roosters squad reached the heights of their form under Brian Smith. Anthony Minichiello had an exceptional year after coming back from a horrendous back injury, while the eventual Roosters halves in Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce controlled their team perfectly.

Combined, they set up 36 of the Roosters’ tries during the season, and sent their players through holes more times than we can count.

The Roosters forwards, particularly Nate Myles and Jason Ryles, lay the platform for their team, and Braith Anasta, who ended up in the back row, had a stand-out season as captain.

Captain Braith Anasta says… “We’ve got a really good squad, we were confident that we’d have a much better year, so the expectations were that we’d make the top eight at the beginning of the season, and we did that. I think there was an indication in pre-season that a lot of the guys’ attitudes had change, so I was confident we could turn it around from last year.

“We had a bit of a taper off there… we played well at the start of the year and tapered off. But we knew we had the ability and the talent and the attitude and drive, so we just had to put it all into practice on the field. As the year went on our execution got better, our combinations got better, and we played for each other. We were just one half of footy short.”

Conclusion… The team and their fans will undoubtedly be disappointed with the grand final loss – but with such a young squad and Brian Smith at the helm, the possibilities are endless for the Roosters in the years to come.