Roosters bounce back with win over Bulldogs
There is substance to the Sydney Roosters pre-season hype yet after they finished a gruelling 30-12 win over Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with 15 men and their first points of 2018.
That they did so with 10 first-half errors and a man in the sin-bin, yet still led 18-0 at oranges, also said plenty about the rebuild that has barely begun at Belmore.
The Roosters lost winger Daniel Tupou to a serious pectoral injury and Mitch Aubusson to a stomach churning head knock that required 12 stitches, and their way on all but a few attacking raids.
And yet they had more than enough firepower in both their gun recruits and young foot soldiers to comfortably account for the blue and whites.
Moving Moses Mbye to the back will prove a winner at more posts than this, with the half turned fullback the one constant threat for a Canterbury side otherwise unable to get their game plan going.
Match: Roosters vs Bulldogs
Venue: Allianz Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Across the way big money earners Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco were on hand when they needed to be, combining for a telling 53rd minute try as a Bulldogs fightback was brewing.
But it was the Gen now and next of Bondi that impressed most, with Latrell Mitchell in literally everything, Dylan Napa belting anything and Luke Keary finishing with a try and two assists in his return from a broken jaw.
Mitchell's first dozen minutes saw him bag a 50-metre intercept, fumble with a try in the offing, palm Kieran Foran to the turf, clip Mbye around his chin and then botch a bomb from the Bulldogs' No.7.
It landed straight in Tedesco's lap, and with open pasture on offer Keary eventually finished off a first-up four-pointer that was 95 metres in the making.
Mitchell duly knocked over the sideline conversion on the left.
And when the Roosters produced a rare raid down the right, Blake Ferguson's impressive start to the year continued with a try in the corner after a jittery Joseph Manu offload.
But while the points flowed, so did the Tricolours' errors, with five in the game's first quarter and Isaac Liu binned for a professional foul as the contest ticked past 20 minute-mark.
Three penalties defending their line later, the Roosters eventually wilted.
Canterbury flyer Marcelo Montoya found his over way in the right corner, only for the try to be called back for obstruction by decoy-runner Josh Jackson.
With Liu still cooling his heels, Tupou joined him in the sheds in agony, grabbing at his chest after lunging at Jackson in defence.
When Napa steamrolled Jackson in a 30-metre charge that sent the Dogs skipper off for a HIA, Tedesco was strolling through a disjointed defence soon enough for an 18-0 halftime lead.
With the break came signs of life from the Bulldogs. First from Mbye in a scything kick return, and then through a Matt Frawley show-and-go that sent Josh Morris over from 40 out.
From the ensuing set Aubusson's forehead was split open by an errant knee that saw his night finish early and Ryan Matterson to shift to the centres.
But with the Bulldogs still coming Tedesco swung into gear, carving Canterbury up from halfway and putting it on a platter for Cronk's first try in his new colours.
To their credit the Bulldogs kept coming still. And against the odds found themselves back in a 24-12 contest once more when Jackson crashed over with 18 to go.
But when Sio Siua Taukeiaho snagged a crucial strip on his own line, the Roosters marched downfield, and ruled once more as Keary piloted Matterson over down the left soon after.