Focused Roosters pass character test against Sharks
Character. That's the missing ingredient Sydney Roosters second rower Ryan Matterson says was there in larger proportions against Cronulla than previous matches for the Tri-Colours forward pack.
From conceding 30 points to the Warriors in round four to scoring 28 points against the Sharks a week later for their third win of the Telstra Premiership season, Matterson puts it down to ''the stern stuff.''
''We had more character,'' Matterson told NRL.com.
''We all turned up with more character and that's what happens if you bring that - you complete, you tackle well, you finish off tries. That's how you win games.
Matterson showed a fair bit of it himself. He topped the tackle count with 36 - no mean feat when Jake Friend and Paul Gallen are on the same field - and he scored two first half tries.
That gives the 23-year-old three tries for 2018 so far, which is three more than every member of the six-strong Roosters starting pack.
''Last year I only scored one so it shows I'm learning,'' Matterson said.
Matterson's four-pointers came off the back of lead-up kicks by halfback Cooper Cronk, while five-eighth Luke Keary also excelled with the boot. The Roosters' fifth and last try to winger Reece Robinson was off a perfect trajectory for the left-hand corner.
''It's unbelievable,'' Matterson said.
''We always say at the Roosters that our kicks are only as good as our chases. It's a 13-man chase so it's good.''
Coach Trent Robinson pinpointed the Bankstown Bulls junior's dedication to that chase as an example for all forwards.
''If you chase the ball enough, when the ball is in the air, then you'll be in the right position,'' Robinson said.
''He worked hard to get into those positions - it's not luck. If you keep moving, even if people don't think it's your job, then the rewards will come. And Ryan proved that.''
It hasn't been all glow and glory lately for the Roosters. The forward pack in particular was singled out after the loss to the Warriors and their season-opening loss to Wests Tigers.
''You're always going to hear it,'' Matterson said.
''It's in the papers, it's in your face. We have this mentality, this theory, that whatever happens the only thing that is relevant is how we work - all of us - in the group.
''That's the 13 players at the start, the four bench players, the 18th man, the coaching staff. They are the only people that count. There is very little outside our group that we take notice of, or at least take it to heart.''
As for his newfound point-scoring ability, Matterson puts it down to keeping his legs moving.
''I think it's just being in the right place in the right time,'' he said.
''Everyone has their chances, it's just whether you can ice them.''
Robinson said his 194cm back rower was not a one-dimensional man.
''He worked hard for that game tonight,'' Robinson said.
''People will probably bring it up because he scored two tries. But I thought defensively he was very strong.
''It was a good performance after what we weren't happy with last week. The adventure continues.
''We've just got to make sure we hold onto some stuff we did tonight and fight like hell to do it again next week.''
The Rabbitohs will be waiting on Thursday night at Allianz Stadium to match any fight.