The Roosters sent a collective tremor through their NRL rivals with a 32-6 thumping of top-of-the-table Penrith in a contest that also spread carnage through both State of Origin camps.
A spate of serious injuries to NSW Blues pair Latrell Mitchell [neck] and Reagan Campbell-Gillard [suspected broken jaw] and Maroons firebrand Dylan Napa [ankle] will steal the headlines in coming days out of this round 15 marquee fixture.
But with a five tries to one trouncing of the front-running Panthers, made more impressive with just 15 men to call on for much of it, the Roosters were hitting high notes rarely reached so far in a campaign weighted with heavy expectation.
A double to dumped NSW winger Blake Ferguson led the score sheet as he and maligned prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves played the house down.
Match: Roosters v Panthers
Round 15 -
Venue: Allianz Stadium
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The latter produced 80 minutes of havoc himself, finishing with 244 metres from 26 runs and nine tackle busts in the absence of both Napa and fellow big man Sio Siua Taukeiaho - a late withdrawal with his wife due to give birth on game day.
The Tricolours were on song from the outset while Penrith couldn't hold a tune – Blues halves James Maloney [an intercept pass, kick out on the full, and another handling error] and Nathan Cleary enduring a particularly out-of-synch evening.
Ferguson started the rout in just the fifth minute, going over in the corner after Joseph Manu had read a long pass of Maloney's like a picture book for a long-range intercept.
Ferguson finishes off classy Roosters team try
The Roosters came knocking again in quick time, with the type of play anticipated since Cooper Cronk's signing last October.
With the former Test half running as a decoy, Luke Keary's doubling around the back and short ball for Isaac Liu had Penrith in all sorts and the softly spoken lock in for his fifth try in seven games.
The sight of Napa limping off with an ankle injury was cause for concern in both Trent Robinson's coaching box and the Fox Sports commentary digs next door where Queensland's Kevin Walters was moonlighting.
Mitchell had the tonic – for his club at least, certainly not his Origin opponents – with a sublime flick pass within the minute to send Keary away once more, and Zane Tetevano in for an 18-0 lead after 14 minutes.
The points kept coming when the visitors finally fired a shot, Dean Whare charging onto an inside ball and through some flat-footed defence to get Penrith on the board.
Campbell-Gillard joined Napa in the sheds midway through the half, wearing a shoulder to his jaw from Waerea-Hargreaves that had the Panthers prop reportedly spitting blood, out of the contest, and potentially out for the next month.
A penalty goal from Mitchell rounded out the half before a Cronk 40-20 nine minutes into the second stanza continued the Roosters run – until Mitchell went down in an awkward 50th minute tackle by Cleary.
The youngster had hearts in mouths all over Allianz Staedium as he was fitted with a neck brace and taken from the field on the medicab.
But later he was able to sit up in the dressing room and appeared in good spirits as he spoke with coaching and medical staff.
After a lengthy delay the Tricolours eventually made use of a mountain of possession, Ferguson going in for his second thanks to a slick flick pass from Joseph Manu.
Tyrone Peachey found himself off the field through infringement rather than injury with 20 minutes to play, sin-binned for blocking Manu off the ball in pursuit of a bomb.
In a nice touch the NSW utility found his way to Mitchell's side in the opposing dressing room, while another four-pointer to Daniel Tupou rounded out an impressive Roosters win.
News and Notes: The Roosters ran for an astounding 785 metres more than Penrith (1,942m v 1,157)... James Maloney has still never scored a try against the Roosters in 10 attempts, the only team he has failed to cross the stripe against... The Panthers missed a whopping 60 tackles, with what was the best defence in the competition before kick-off torn to shreds... Crowd: 10,078... Both teams will rest up with the rep round bye, before the Roosters go to Adelaide where they host Melbourne in Cooper's Cronk first game against his old club on June 29.... Penrith host Manly in round 16.