A blistering first 40 minutes has enabled the Sydney Roosters to overcome a horrible second half to hold off the Gold Coast Titans 32-18 at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
Looking every inch the premiership fancies that many pundits predicted during the pre-season, the Roosters unleashed the new halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary to full effect to start the year with Keary and Latrell Mitchell each scoring twice (with Mitchell going on to score a third) in a 28-point initial onslaught that effectively put the game out of reach of the home side.
But displaying the same type of fight that typified their entry into the Telstra Premiership 10 years ago, the Titans got on the board in somewhat fortuitous fashion through Anthony Don in the 44th minute and clawed their way back with further tries to Kane Elgey and Jarryd Hayne to narrow the gap to 10 points 17 minutes from full-time.
The Roosters completed only half of their first 14 sets of the second half and bombed chances to put the result to bed before Daniel Tupou and Mitchell again combined out wide for the 19-year-old to claim a hat-trick and the two points for his team.
The Titans were forced to do without co-captain Kevin Proctor for the entire second half with an injury to his right shoulder but battled on gamely on the back of power-packed charges from Agnatius Paasi and Konrad Hurrell.
With a light drizzle falling the Roosters took control of proceedings early and ran roughshod through the Titans defence in the middle of the field, Pearce and Keary playing fast and direct on the back of it to create five tries in the opening 40 minutes.
Keary went close to laying on a try for Tupou in the eight minute before scoring himself from the next set and then a slick backline movement saw Mitchell cross in the 13th minute for a 10-0 lead.
With possession running comfortably the way of the visitors the Titans had no answers as the half wore on, Pearce and Keary combining again in the 32nd minute for the former Rabbitoh to get his second, Michael Gordon finished off a long-range try three minutes later and Mitchell put Tupou away before backing up on the inside to also snare his second of the half for a commanding lead at the break.
The Roosters seemed to have picked up where they left off to start the second half but as they attacked the Titans' right edge again Hurrell forced an error from Gordon and Don picked up the Steeden and raced 85 metres to score under the posts.
Don was denied a second a couple of minutes later when he was bundled into touch and when Kane Elgey made Gordon and Kenny-Dowall pay for bungling an Ashley Taylor bomb under the posts, the Titans had narrowed the gap slightly to 16 points.
A Taylor 40/20 kick in the 56th minute gave the Titans another opportunity that should have yielded points but Chris McQueen fumbled a Taylor grubber kick into the in-goal over the try-line, Hayne's effort 17 minutes from full-time as close as the home side could get.
The only potential sour note for the Roosters was back-rower Mitchell Aubusson being placed on report for a lifting tackle on Ryan James midway through the first half.
Sydney Roosters 32 (Latrell Mitchell 3, Luke Keary 2, Michael Gordon tries; Michael Gordon 4 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 18 (Anthony Don, Kane Elgey, Jarryd Hayne tries; Ashley Taylor 3 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Crowd: 13,933. On report: Mitchell Aubusson (Roosters). Holden Cup: Roosters 38-18.