Several State of Origin aspirants did their claims no harm as the Bulldogs cruised past an error-riddled Roosters side 32-20 at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Latrell Mitchell was the standout for the Tricolours in an otherwise disappointing performance that could spell the end of their push for the finals.
Hasler pleads for Morris to be picked
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has thrown his support behind Josh Morris to retain his spot in the NSW side leading into this year's State of Origin series.
While the numbers won't show anything spectacular, Morris shutdown Roosters winger Blake Ferguson on Sunday and it's that defensive nous that has Hasler tipping his man to be named on Monday.
"I think he made a very, very, very strong claim today," Hasler said after the game.
"I think Origin is built on defence. He's an experienced campaigner and if he's not the top then he's in the top two defensive centres in the game."
Bulldogs skipper James Graham said he'd be surprised if Morris didn't make the New South Wales squad for Game One, crediting his ability to nullify Maroons superstar Greg Inglis as the main reason to pick him.
"As an outsider looking in, he's been one of NSW's best for a couple of years now. If you want to stop Greg Inglis then I think Josh Morris is your man."
Latrell Mitchell has the makings of a future superstar
The one positive to take from Sunday's loss was the performance of Latrell Mitchell. The Roosters fullback recovered from a 10-minute stint in the sin bin to lead his side's fightback with two tries.
It could have been an even bigger day out for the 18-year-old but he had a third try disallowed as well as another one he set up turned down by the bunker.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was proud of what his No.1 did especially after being marched for a professional foul in the first half.
"It was an 18-year-old guy that sparked us," Robinson said. "He came back from the sin bin and decided that he was going to try to make a difference and he did."
Jake Friend said the only disappointing thing was that it took someone as inexperienced as Mitchell to lift his team.
"It was a good performance by him to come back and spark something like that. He's coming along really well and I think he's only going to get better," the Roosters skipper said.
"He keeps turning up at the right times and I guess the rest of the team has got to follow Latrell, which I guess shouldn't be [the case to put] the pressure on him."
Klemmer charges his way into Origin consideration
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has no doubt David Klemmer will be picked in the NSW side for Game One.
"I thought he was really strong today so I expect his name to be read out," Hasler said.
That strong opinion came on the back of another mammoth performance that saw Klemmer churn out 216 metres from 26 runs in 71 minutes; easily the most he's played this season.
James Graham said his teammate had taken a lot from last year's campaign with the Blues and was a better player because of it.
"I think he was maybe a little bit raw, but he brought energy last year," the Englishman said.
"Just having that experience of knowing how to get through the games and how to deal with different situations I think has brought him on as a player. I think it's just a matter of getting more time on the field."
Roosters' finals hopes hanging by a thread
It's too early to start getting the calculators out, but the Roosters' chances of playing in September are almost becoming a mathematical proposition.
The Tricolours need to win 10 of their final 13 games to finish on 28 competition points and would need to improve their points differential which stands at -72.
There have been teams in similar positions go on to make the finals, with the 2006 Parramatta Eels starting the year 3-8 before winning nine of their final 13 games to finish 8th, while the 2009 Eels went from nine points through 12 rounds to also finish 8th.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said it was one thing to talk about making a run for the finals and another thing actually doing it.
"I keep hearing it but we've just got to get it done," he said.
"I see it and I hear it and these guys hear it, but we've just got to go out there and get it done. Now we run into a bye and we've got to sit on our hands for a couple of weeks. We've just got to get it done next game.
"You make yourself feel better by the guy sitting next to you but that's not happening at the moment. We've got to deliver."
Bulldogs sneak under the radar to sit just outside the top four
Despite their hot-and-cold start to the season, the Bulldogs will head into the Origin period just two wins behind the first-placed Cronulla Sharks on 14 competition points.
Sunday's win was the first time since the opening fortnight of the NRL Telstra Premiership that the blue and whites had recorded consecutive wins.
The 12-point victory could take on even more importance with matches against top four teams the Sharks and Broncos looming in the next month.
A win against the Raiders on Sunday afternoon in the nation's capital could open up a four-point gap between them and the chasing pack.