Roosters blow Panthers away late

The Roosters have simultaneously pumped up the tires of their title defence and let just a smidge of air out of the Panthers' own premiership credentials with a solid 32-12 victory at Allianz Stadium.


With a gale-force wind at their backs and the sun only fleetingly falling on the 13,993 crowd, the Roosters dominated the first 40 minute with three tries before holding out, and eventually dusting a persistent Penrith outfit that at stages threatened to make the Tricolours' last start nightmare capitulation to the Sharks a recurring one.

Despite rolling out the welcome mat for the visitors with five consecutive penalties after the break and spending the majority of the second stanza under siege on their own line, a brace of tries from back-rower Boyd Cordner in the 71st and 77th minutes blew the score line out beyond an accurate reflection of the visitors' competitiveness.

The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the premiers, and delivers a third consecutive win over the patched-up mountain men, who entered the match without destructive wingman Josh Mansour, and with 19-year-old lock forward Bryce Cartwright as a fourth-string five-eighth, while the Roosters themselves went in with a reshuffled backline that featured regular back-rowers Aidan Guerra and Mitch Aubusson in the three-quarter line.

In the space of just five days the Panthers went from hardly missing a beat without a recognised five-eighth in their Monday night thriller against the Broncos, to looking every bit like a side short a playmaker throughout the first half as they struggled gamely but ultimately unsuccessfully for fluency and timing in attack. Similarly their short kicking game was found exactly that, short of what was required, as the Roosters back three repeatedly picked off the limp offerings from the Panthers' boots. 

Jake Friend literally kicked things off for the Roosters with a pin point fourth minute 40/20 that delivered the home side prime attacking real estate, and from the ensuing quick tap Panthers back-rower Elijah Taylor was given 10 minutes on the pine for a professional foul as he held on too long in the tackle of Guerra trying to slow up play for his side to set their scrambling goal line defence. 

It mattered for nought within 90 seconds, as the Roosters crossed the stripe through that man Guerra, on the end of some slick hands from late inclusion Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as the premiers attacked the Panthers left-edge defence that Taylor typically occupies, with James Maloney's conversion giving the home side a 6-0 advantage after as many minutes.

Having enjoyed the lion's share of field position across the opening exchanges, a 17th minute hit-and-spin out of dummy-half from fellow makeshift centre Aubusson ensured the Roosters made the most of their 55 per cent possession advantage, while another nail was added to the coffin the Panthers were fast making themselves comfortable in when big Frenchman Remi Casty barged over from close range late in the half to ensure the Chooks took an 18-0 lead into the break. 

After occupying enemy territory as though it were the own backyard upon the resumption of play, the Panthers finally got themselves on the board through Cartwright, who stepped and slipped through some waning Roosters defence from 15 metres out to score the first of what will no doubt be many NRL tries in the 58th minute.

A penalty goal from Maloney with 16 minutes to play stretched the Chooks' lead back out beyond two converted tries before the much-maligned pivot rolled a grubber into the Panthers in-goal for a flying Cordner, whose seventh try of the year proved a fitting reward for his 202 metres and 37 tackles. 

Penrith hooker James Segeyaro dummied and jinked his way through the line with six minutes to go for a consolation four-pointer, though Cordner's second for the afternoon, a reproduction of the short-ball play from halfback Mitch Pearce that has proved so successful over the past 18 months, reinforced the Roosters ascendency as the Panthers slumped to their fifth defeat in their last six visits to Allianz Stadium.

Sydney Roosters 32 (B Cordner 2, A Guerra, M Aubusson, R Casty, tries; J Maloney 6 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 12 (B Cartwright, J Segeyaro tries; J Soward 2 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Crowd: 13, 993.