Roosters missed trick against Storm: Elliott
The end of the Roosters' 12-game winning streak that has them on the verge of finals elimination was a result of taking on Melbourne without a back-up plan according to former Panthers and Warriors coach Matt Elliott.
Having won a third straight minor premiership, the Roosters now face the Bulldogs in a sudden-death semi-final at Allianz Stadium on Friday night desperate to avoid being bundled out of the premiership race in the space of seven days.
In the post-match press conference Roosters coach Trent Robinson spoke of his frustration at his perceived lack of policing of the ruck area as the Storm minimised the Roosters' influence in the middle third of the field.
Melbourne's dominance in that area and some tactical gambles by coach Craig Bellamy restricted the Roosters from using a power game that had served them so well over the course of the regular season and using their big outside backs early in sets.
"The Roosters' potency in attack revolves around a few key areas of execution," Elliott says in the Finals Week Two issue of Big League.
"They have very strong ball-carriers in the middle of the park who have excellent late footwork at the line (Moa, Taukeiaho, Lui, Napa, Evans, Matagi). They also have genuine support play on nearly all go-forward plays and a willingness to put short passes on early in the set.
"The impact of this is that it’s very difficult for teams to commit more than two players into a tackle, otherwise they risk being busted through the middle of the ruck, something we’ve seen the Tricolours do regularly this year.
"Enter Craig Bellamy, who had obviously had done his homework on these key tactical nuances.
"The Storm not only focused on the early-play ball carriers, they also raced up on the close support players and got their inside defenders to attack the ball carrier."
While he acknowledged shifting focus in a finals game is a difficult task, Elliott believes that some slight variation to their normal structure could have seen the Roosters have more success spreading the Storm defence a bit thinner.
"Changing approach during a game of this magnitude is extremely difficult and dangerous as it can distract players’ mindsets," says Elliott. "However, there was an easy yet highly effective adjustment the Roosters could have made.
"By executing their skill a fraction earlier with both their tip-on and shift plays, it would have required the Storm to react earlier and travel a greater distance to shut them down.
"As the amount of research increases on each opponent, the team that is able to make these small adjustments whilst ensuring other parts their performance aren’t compromised is the outfit that will lift the trophy in three weeks time."
The Finals Week Two issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version available through Zinio.