Knights v Roosters: Five key points
The Roosters showed they are still a force in 2017 following a polished 24-6 win over a plucky Newcastle side on Good Friday.
Roosters respond in style
Last week's drubbing in Brisbane was a distant memory as the Roosters produced the sort of defence that had them unbeaten after the opening month of the season.
While they finished the game with 35 missed tackles, Trent Robinson's new-look backline scrambled all night long before the halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary were able to ice the game with a couple of late tries.
"I was really happy with tonight. I thought the boys played really, really well. I thought they worked hard for the victory tonight," Robinson said.
"I thought that the platform was built through a lot of the middle's work and the outside backs. They (the halves) pushed the boys around well and eventually they took advantage."
Nothing to worry about for Friend
Social media went into a minor meltdown when it was announced Roosters co-captain Jake Friend had been pushed back to the bench for Friday's clash. New recruit Paul Carter started in his place, with Friend coming on after 28 minutes, finishing the game with 36 tackles.
As Robinson explained, the star No.9 had been sick all week so he felt it was in the best interests of the team's rotations to start Friend from the bench.
You can breathe easy NRL Fantasy coaches, this isn't a permanent switch.
"Jake has been in the wars," Robinson said.
"He had his teeth and ribs, but he was actually quite sick during the week just to add to that. He didn't eat for two days so it was just a case of preserving him. I knew that I only wanted to use one interchange around him, rather than two."
Worrying prognosis for Kostjasyn
Knights coach Nathan Brown provided a sobering update on hooker Rory Kostjasyn, revealing there are no guarantees the 29-year-old will return from the throat injury that has kept him out of action in 2017.
Kostjasyn suffered the injury in pre-season training and Brown said it was a "possibility" that the Knights recruit may not come back.
"I'd say 'indefinite' is probably correct," he said.
"We're not sure if he'll come back in two weeks or four weeks or if he'll come back – we don't know at this stage. It's not positive at the moment."
So close yet so far for brave Knights
If competition points were handed out based on effort, the Newcastle Knights would be sitting atop the Telstra Premiership ladder.
Alas, that's not how it works, and despite playing with plenty of heart each week, the Knights find themselves in 16th spot after seven rounds with just one win to show for their efforts.
Down 12-0 at the break, the Knights played with renewed energy in the second half with winger Ken Sio touching down in the 45th minute, but despite playing with plenty of vigour that's as close as they got as the more-experienced Roosters closed it out with two late tries.
"I thought we came out in the second half and we certainly played a bit better with the ball. Our defence off the back of it probably improved a touch too and at 12-6 we certainly started being right in the contest," Brown said.
"But in the key moments we got pulled down half a centimetre short twice. We didn't come up with the play at the tight time."
Added skipper Trent Hodkinson: "Momentum definitely changed – we felt that when we got that try. Certain things in good ball [areas] we didn't capitalise on it. I thought we did extremely well to get back into that game at the start of that second half."
Slow starts defining this rivalry
For the fourth game in a row, the Roosters held Newcastle scoreless in the first half. It's one of those stats that probably doesn't mean a lot in the grand scheme of things – Newcastle overturned a 6-0 half-time deficit to win 16-12 in 2014 – but it is becoming a worrying trend for the Novocastrians who can't always rely on crowd support to get them back into the contest.