Jennings leads Roosters' superhero party
The Roosters came as Captain America, the Dragons dressed as Iron Man, and Michael Jennings threw a fair old impersonation of The Flash in for good measure in a win over the Dragons on Saturday night.
With superheros in vogue over Round 21, the sight of Jennings - if not in full flight, then at least gearing up for take-off - was a welcome one for the premiers who last week lost their own Superman Sonny Bill Williams for the best part of a month with a broken thumb.
Jennings' two tries in the hard-fought 30-22 defeat of the Dragons didn't require any death-defying exploits or the supersonic speed for which he is famed, just a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
On both occasions he got on the end of kicks from five-eighth James Maloney, the second of which secured some much-needed breathing space for the Chooks at the hour mark, and helped push a shaky 18-10 lead out beyond two converted tries.
Suiting up for the first time in six weeks after a back injury suffered in Origin II, the left-edge defensive combination with rookie winger Nene MacDonald was understandably wobbly at times, but coach Trent Robinson summed up the returning star's contribution best after the match.
"A couple of really nice tries, [he] turns up and picks those balls up and scores," Robinson said.
"He's a man around the ball. Jenko was class."
And that's what Jennings brings to the Roosters, an element they've lacked in being on the wrong-end of upset results to the Sharks and Knights in recent weeks.
An ability to sniff out a try quicker than Garfield does lasagne, and the experience that cannot be learned on the training paddock, was the difference in the win.
For his part, Jennings was "not troubled once" by the injury that had ruled him out since mid-June, and aside from a lack of match fitness was happy with his return to a Roosters left-edge that is likely to be deprived of NSW flyer Daniel Tupou for another 2-3 weeks.
"My lungs were blowing, I was struggling with fitness, but it was a good start to see where I'm at," Jennings said.
"Other than that there's still a bit to work with, getting back with the left side, working on our defence.
"That's the main focus for next week, getting the new combination going and getting the feel of it."
Also on the agenda when the Roosters next head into battle Monday week against the Titans will be more of the free-flowing, confident football that produced three second-half tries, and less of the butter-fingered opening 40 minutes that yielded eight errors.
"We were playing what we were seeing," Jennings said of the assured second-half display that contrasted so starkly with their output in the first.
"We stuck to our structures, and our structures are what created the space outside. We were playing to the spaces that the forwards were creating through the middle.
"At the same time we were calm and in control throughout the whole game.
"I think when we got in front the main focus was just to have that control and not push anything."