Roosters 2015 season review
The Sydney Roosters won their third consecutive minor premiership, an incredible feat in a modern era deemed the most competitive the game has seen. But the season will ultimately be remembered for the disappointing way it all came to an end. The Roosters were on a 12-match winning streak heading into the post-season, but then lost to the Storm in the opening week of the finals, bounced back to beat the Bulldogs, before being comprehensively beaten by the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in their preliminary final. There is no doubt injuries to key players Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce affected them, but the Roosters will still view the 2015 season as another one that got away.
Where They Excelled: An unbeaten 12 match sequence leading into the finals helped the club to their third successive minor premiership. A 30-0 drubbing of defending Premiers South Sydney in the last game of the regular season looked like the Roosters were on course for another title, but it wasn't to be. Unsurprisingly the Roosters led the league for kick return metres, tackle breaks, line breaks and handling errors. They were also the second best team at defusing kicks, support runs, total runs, metres after contact and tries.
Where They Struggled: There wasn't much struggle for the Roosters in season 2015. A four game losing streak at the start of the year highlighted some flaws in the Roosters armour. But they were four games that the Tricolours could have conceivably won, losing to the Sharks by eight, the Broncos in golden point, Storm by one and Dragons by two on a wild and wet ANZAC Day. The results were a false economy. The Roosters were playing good football and just losing at the death, but the results also highlighted an area that Trent Robinson's men needed to improve. They needed to own the big moments. In the finals, without key players, it came back to hurt them, losing to the Storm by two points in their qualifying final, and letting the Broncos run away with the preliminary final after a brave fight back.
Missing In Action: The Roosters had a relatively easy run with injuries until the eve of the finals when they lost power prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and halfback Mitchell Pearce. It couldn't have come at a worse time. While Jackson Hastings slotted into the side with relative ease, the Roosters were lacking an enforcer for the big games and it showed. Pearce returned for the preliminary final but soon re-injured his hamstring and didn't take part in the second half of the game.
Turning Point: Hard to go past the key injuries to Waerea-Hargreaves and Pearce, but how their fortunes could have changed on a James Maloney conversion attempt in the qualifying final against the Storm. Ultimately, a couple of inches could have been the sliding doors moment in their season as Maloney's conversion attempt clattered back off the upright at Allianz Stadium. It may have been the difference between winning and losing the opening week of the finals, getting a week's rest and hosting a preliminary final, instead of playing three games in a row and flying to Brisbane to take on the Broncos. The decision to play Pearce in the preliminary final also backfired, but it was probably a risk they had to take given the stakes. In such an even competition, a missed conversion may have been all it took for the Roosters to go all the way. We'll never know.
Hold Your Head High: The artful Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. In a team that was sweeping all before it, Tuivasa-Sheck emerged as a genuine rugby league superstar. The Roosters custodian ran for an unbelievable record-setting 6,500 metres in the 2015 season, a whopping 2,400 metres more than the next best in the competition, Storm prop Jesse Bromwich. But that was just the start of it. RTS was lighting up the competition with blistering speed, footwork and agility, while remaining rock solid at the back. Other notable mentions go to the emergence of Jackson Hastings, who was asked to fill in when Mitchell Pearce went down injured. It was a big ask, but Hastings showed composure beyond his years to control the team and help them get to the preliminary finals. In truth, there were no disappointing players for the Tricolours, they were deserved minor premiers and it showed across the park.
2016 Crystal Ball: The loss of Tuivasa-Sheck to the Warriors is a big hole for the Roosters and will have an immediate impact on how they play footy. James Maloney is another big blow (heading to the Sharks), but Hastings has shown that he is more than capable of stepping straight into the halves. It is hard to see this team doing anything but competing for the big prize at the end of 2016, and there is still a lot of unfinished business after being bundled out of the Preliminary Final in consecutive years. They won't forget it.
Conclusion: It was a great year for so many reasons for the Roosters, but the players, members and fans will be disappointed not to have more than the JJ Giltnan Shield to show for it again. For a side long favoured to win the title, bowing out a week before the Grand Final is an underachievement. Their goal and focus was undoubtedly the ultimate success, and falling at the penultimate game of the season for the second year in a row will hurt them. The Roosters should be proud of what they achieved and be hungry to learn from their mistakes at the end of the season and improve in 2016. Trent Robinson has probably already started his planning.
Position: Minor Premiers, Preliminary Final exit
Home Record: 10-3
Away Record: 8-5
Longest Winning Streak: 12 matches (Rd 14-26)
Longest Losing Streak: 4 (Rd 5-8)
Players Used: 24
Tries Scored: 111
Tries Conceded: 65