Roosters need to get ruthless against Eels
Ask any Roosters player what their coach Trent Robinson thinks about back-to-back fadeouts that almost cost them what should have been easy wins against Canterbury and Newcastle and you'll get something resembling a sheepish laugh.
Taking nothing away from Canterbury and Newcastle, but when you've got the roster and the firepower that the Roosters have, to fall behind after leading 22-0 one week before clawing a late win, then have a 26-0 lead pegged back to a 10-point margin against a wooden spoon candidate... well, the coach will be delivering some home truths.
That's why, when the Chooks host the struggling Eels in their own backyard at Moore Park this Saturday night they'll be under strict instructions not to let their foot off the gas.
The Eels have had little go right this year although they are coming off a win – albeit an underwhelming one against the only club in the competition with a worse injury toll than their own – and the Roosters will be doing everything they can to compound that misery.
Prop Sam Moa will be watching from the sidelines as he nurses a dislocated wrist but he said the recent comebacks against them had definitely been spoken about.
"It's been brought up a couple of times and 'Robbo' wasn't too happy after [the Newcastle] game," Moa told NRL.com.
"It's something that needs to be addressed quickly, especially the run home that we have [with heavyweights Brisbane, Manly and Souths in the final three weeks]. We don't have much chance to muck around and feel our way through the game so it needs to be rectified pretty quickly."
Moa said complacency wouldn't be an issue given the team lost their last clash against Parramatta (14-12 against an admittedly Jarryd Hayne-inspired side at Pirtek Stadium in Round 6 last year).
"I think Parramatta beat us last year at their home game and they beat Penrith [last week] so they'll be looking for some consistency and try and get two wins on the bounce," Moa said.
"They'll pose a bit of a threat to us there at home but it's our home ground and our performance should reflect that and hopefully this week you'll see an improved effort. In saying that you don't want to disrespect Parramatta just because they're outside the eight so they'll be hungry and so will we and it should make for a good game."
He said if the Roosters did get out to a healthy lead again they would be focused on driving home the advantage this time, rather than letting their opponents back into the contest.
"We spoke about it after the [Newcastle] game, we need to be ruthless and put teams away and don't let them get a sniff and I think that's what we're going to be working on heading into the finals," he said.
Impressive bench forward Sio Siua Taukeiaho perhaps gave an insight into what the team thought of the Eels by omission: "We were leading Knights by 26 points so it was a bit disappointing for us, it's something we need to work on coming into the back end of the season, so we'll work on that and starting strong in the second half and finishing strong. We still have some tough teams coming up, Broncos and Rabbitohs and Manly, hopefully we prepare ourselves well for those games."
Despite perhaps subconsciously not regarding the Eels as one of the tougher sides they'll face over the final four rounds, Taukeiaho said Trent Robinson was clearly disappointed after the players let in four second half tries in 25 minutes.
"He didn't say much, he was a bit disappointed, it's not what we usually do," he said of the coach's response.
"Usually when we start fast we want to finish on a good note and we didn't do that [against Newcastle]. Even though we came away with two points we were still disappointed in our performance in the last 20 minutes. It's something we need to work on over the end of the season."
Added young gun Jackson Hastings: "I don't think [Robinson] was too happy with the lapse in the second half, especially two weeks in a row, but the boys know what we did wrong and we'll be out to rectify it during the week and hopefully put in a solid performance this week."