Panthers v Roosters: Five key points
The Panthers and Roosters clash was built as a potential Grand Final dress-rehearsal and it didn't disappoint, with the game going down to one dramatic final tackle. Here are five things we learned from the clash at Pepper Stadium.
Gordon haunts former side
He may have left the Panthers at the end of 2012, but Michael Gordon had a night out for the visitors scoring a double - including the match-winner - and coming up with a try-saver on Tyrone Peachey in the final play of the game. The 33-year-old has proven to be more than just a stopgap player many predicted him to be in the opening three rounds, with the positional movement of Latrell Mitchell to centre proving to be one of the most successful decisions from Trent Robinson to start the season.
Roosters are left-edge lethal
Speaking of Mitchell, another stunning performance from the 19-year-old has the left side quadrant firing for the Roosters with Luke Keary, Boyd Cordner and Daniel Tupou running the Panthers ragged to help the Tricolours out of their territory at pivotal stages of the game. The left side has now scored 10 tries down that corridor in three games, while co-captain Cordner was one of the Roosters best on the night, chalking up 137m with 29 tackles in the 80-minute performance.
Errors aplenty on slippery night
Despite the rain predicted staying away for the game, the slippery surface remained and both sides were guilty of a high error rate that halted any momentum for either outfit with 25 in total. The Roosters alone coughed up 17 errors after enjoying 58 per cent of possession midway through the second half, thanks largely to a number of Nathan Cleary spiralling bombs going to ground.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said post-game he was more concerned about the defence that guided the side to victory rather than the errors on the night, but admitted it was an area his team needed to fix for their next clash against arch-rivals South Sydney.
Another Panthers injury
Anthony Griffin's men can't take a trick with backrower James Fisher-Harris the latest Panthers casualty after suffering a fractured cheekbone in the first half. The Kiwi international was called into the starting side as a replacement for Bryce Cartwright earlier in the week. Griffin confirmed Fisher-Harris is set to miss the next 2-3 weeks, fresh after the side welcomed Peta Hiku back from the same issue. Hiku played in the back-row late in the second half but is unlikely to stay in the position next weekend against the Knights with Griffin indicating Cartwright is likely to return.
Peach of a period
In a beaten side, the form of Tyrone Peachey continues to rise. After scoring the opening try for the Panthers, the 25-year-old put in another strong performance with 169 metres from 17 carries and almost had the match winner at the death, beating four defenders before coming up agonizingly short of the line. Peachey has all but cemented his position in the Panthers backline that has the likes of Hiku, Dylan Edwards and injured winger Josh Mansour all waiting in the wings in coming weeks and is beginning to loom as one of the most dangerous in the Telstra Premiership.