Sell-out crowd justifies Central Coast move
They might have slumped to slumped to their ninth loss from 10 matches at the venue but the Roosters' decision to take their home game to Central Coast Stadium proved a roaring success in the stands with a record 20,060 fans watching on as they were soundly beaten 44-12 by the Sharks.
Only 9,276 fans turned up when the sides met at Allianz Stadium in July last year, but more than twice that figure braved chilly conditions in Gosford to watch the powerhouse clubs do battle nearly 12 months later at a venue craving more rugby league.
The Roosters drew a crowd of 10,113 when they played the Warriors on the Central Coast last year and their presence in the region has clearly made an impact with the Tricolours equalling the record attendance set in 2013 between the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles with 20,060 fans flocking through the gates.
Saturday's impressive turnout follows on from last week's success in South Australia where 21,492 – the most since 1997 – watched the Roosters pip the Storm in a thriller at the Adelaide Oval.
At a time when most people's focus in on State of Origin and crowds in Sydney dwindle, now is the opportune moment to grow the game in areas not regularly exposed to the NRL.
"I think this is the bit during Origin where in Sydney we talk about a bit of flatness during that period with players being in and out," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
"It was good that fans turned out and appreciated coming up here. Whether it was at Adelaide last week or here this week, it's a real positive for our game and you can see there's a hunger – even during Origin – for those crowds that don't see footy every second week."
Sharks back-rower Luke Lewis is no stranger to the venue having played there - and scored - in the 2004 City v Country match as well as at club level against the Bulldogs in 2013.
"I love playing here purely because the fans that turn up love it," he told NRL.com after adding another four-pointer to his tally.
"They're really close to you in the stands so it brings a really good atmosphere and a good feeling when you're out there playing. It actually feels like you're playing in a big game in front of a really big crowd so it was a really good initiative from the Roosters to bring the game here."