Roosters v Bulldogs: Five key points
Keary's class seals the deal, Brenko Lee makes good on his promise, Klemmer and Napa lock horns and a minute of magical madness.
Keary's class seals the deal
He sparked the Roosters into action by laying on the first of his team's tries for Boyd Cordner on the left and with the game in the balance it was Luke Keary again who pulled the Bulldogs defence apart at just the right time. While in the first half he got his arms free despite the attention of Greg Eastwood and Josh Reynolds to hand off to Cordner, in the second Keary exposed the defensive decision-making of Josh Jackson who was filling in in the centres to put Mitch Aubusson on an unimpeded run to the try-line. Looking all the world the terrier that was so pivotal in South Sydney's 2014 premiership, the energy with which Keary plays is feeding through the entire Roosters squad and is complementing perfectly Mitchell Pearce, who himself has started the year in terrific fashion. Two halves playing 'eyes up' football on both sides of the ruck make the Roosters a far more dangerous proposition in 2017.
Brenko Lee making good on his promise
Given the size advantage he enjoyed over opposition players for three years playing for Canberra in the NYC, we have been waiting for Brenko Lee to assert himself in a similar manner in the NRL and 2017 might just be the year. The 21-year-old scored 34 tries in 44 games in the under-20s competition and in the opening two rounds of the season has become the shining light of the Bulldogs' largely ineffective attack. He laid on his side's only try against the Storm in week one and showed great power and skill to lay on the first try of the game for Kerrod Holland in just the third minute. He caused headaches on the Roosters' left edge throughout the second half and when a pass went to ground and his team down by 10 points it was Lee who created a try for Josh Morris to keep his team in the contest. Early ball in space should be a priority for the Dogs in the weeks to come because Lee is a special talent who might be ready to explode.
Tupou turning back the clock
Backing up a near man-of-the-match display in Round 1 Daniel Tupou again showed why he was considered one of the best wingers in the competition just two years ago with another starring role for the Roosters. One of the competition's late bloomers, the 25-year-old continued his love affair with Canterbury, taking his tally to eight tries from 10 games with a first-half double that was full of class. Chasing through a Latrell Mitchell grubber Tupou showed wonderful handling to scoop the ball up and plant it down and then for his second soared high above Brenko Lee before planting the ball just inside the dead-ball line. His carries coming out of territory are crucial to the Roosters' go forward and could prove just as beneficial to Laurie Daley's Blues in a couple of months' time.
Two young bulls lock horns
If we get what we expect and David Klemmer and Dylan Napa both play Origin in 2017 the most bruising individual battle of young forwards in the game today will go to next-level scary. Two firebrands who live for the physical confrontation went at each other with everything in their artillery and both earned points throughout the contest. Napa put Klemmer on his backside with ball in hand when he charged at the Dogs' defence in the 21st minute but the giant Canterbury prop got one back when he monstered Napa on a charge from the kick-off with some help from Sam Kasiano. They both sail close to the wind at times and an Origin showdown will take their rivalry to a new stratosphere.
One minute of magical madness
In this day and age of completion rates and possession, we can forget sometimes that sport was never meant to be perfect. Which is why a minute of madness late in the first half gave fans so much excitement and would have caused the respective coaches so much angst. With momentum going the way of the Roosters Jake Friend piled on more with a grubber into the in-goal to earn a repeat set for his team. Sensing the need to swing things back their way the Bulldogs went for the short drop-out and got the ball back, only for Latrell Mitchell to pinch it off Greg Eastwood just moments later. Four tackles later the Roosters took a shot at the 'Dogs defence from close range only for Raymond Faitala-Mariner to get in under the ribs of Aidan Guerra to force the ball loose. It was chaos, we were breathless and it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.