The Sydney Roosters paid a high price for a 28-4 victory in their round two NRL clash against Canberra on Sunday, with star full-back Anthony Minichiello out for a month after suffering yet another serious injury.
Coming off three injury-interrupted seasons, Minichiello was taken to hospital for x-rays on his left ankle which he injured when brought down inches short of the Raiders try line in the 25th minute.
The luckless fullback – who has been restricted to just 25 games in the past three seasons – was cleared of a fracture but is not expected back before round seven at the earliest.
From the following set the Roosters pounced on a Canberra mistake and moved the ball out to the wing to a recovering Minichiello, who hobbled across the line to plant the ball in the corner. It was his final contribution to the game.
On a positive note, it was a vastly improved effort by the Roosters following their 52-12 drubbing by the Rabbitohs last week, and Roosters captain Braith Anasta was palpably relieved to deliver such a strong win.
“I think that will start our season off,” he told ABC Grandstand after the match.
“We were disappointing last week, everyone was writing us off, no-one was giving us a chance.”
Anasta said the win was the perfect end to a tumultuous week for the club, which received plenty of media attention for last weekend’s shellacking and the drink driving charge to youngster Jake Friend.
“They (the critics) jumped on the back of us and wrote us off straight away but we believed in ourselves and that’s the main thing,” he said.
“The forwards were just terrific, they laid the platform and set up the win.
“We seemed to be in the headlines every day this week, but we try not to read the papers too much.”
The Roosters were done plenty of favours by Canberra in a performance that would have frustrated coach David Furner.
The Raiders dominated possession and field position, however they lacked their trademark mobility going forward and showed little composure in front of the Roosters’ line.
Raiders captain Alan Tongue said a host of errors and poor last-tackle options killed the side’s chances.
“We just turned over too much ball,” he told Grandstand.
“We created some opportunities early but just that last pass and fifth tackle option hurt us.
“We’re really disappointed to come out and play like that in front of our home ground. I’m not sure why our attack was flat, whether it was that last pass or whatever, it was disappointing.”
Two tries in the last seven minutes by five-eighth Braith Anasta created a flattering scoreline for the Roosters, who in any event deserved the win for a disciplined performance.
Canberra’s cause was not helped with the loss of key forwards Troy Thompson and Glen Buttriss to injury in the first half, placing a drain on the Raiders’ interchange in temperatures that reached 30 degrees.
Roosters: 28 (B Anasta 2, S Kenny-Dowall, A Minichiello, M Pearce tries; C Fitzgibbon 3, S Kenny-Dowall goals)
Raiders: 4 (B Harrison try)