The build up of the Willie Mason homecoming was laughable as the former Rooster returned to the SFS with the Cowboys to face his old side. While the Cowboys upset the Roosters 32-14, any talk of a Mason welcome committee was just that – talk.
It seemed anytime big Willie was tackled or made a tackle, he smiled and was patted on the back by his former team-mates. There might have been some boo’s by the crowd, but as predicted by Mason – the Roosters faithful hardly turned up, with only several thousand on hand at the SFS, apparently the lowest crowd of the year to date.
It was to be the Cowboys night. The visitors were showing plenty of urgency from the outset and even without star half Jonathan Thurston – they had good organisation and looked dangerous with the ball in hand.
Mason continued his good run this year, the big forward marching up for big metres and proving difficult to stop on most occasions.
But what about that freak Matty Bowen? Making his comeback, Bowen was thrown back into his fullback spot after having months on the sideline and waltzed back into topgear.
While most players would need some match fitness, let alone superglue on their hands to help them keep up with NRL pace – Bowen was immediately at home and showed he has lost none of his speed or elusive style. The former Queensland representative split the Roosters defence in the first quarter of the game, running 70 metres to score a scorching try for his side.
The Roosters on the other hand seemed to push the pass all game.
They played catch-up football even before they got behind it seemed. Tossing miracle balls, pushing passes in low percentage situations on many occasions.
With Mitchell Pearce out of this game, Carney was given the no.7 jersey and Anthony Minichiello was moved to his old position of fullback.
Carney again had a solid game, with some good touches and a skillful try from a magical pickup to outrun Bowen. But for Mini, he would have really wanted to have his time again. Back in the fullback spot, his hands and passing decisions let him down at times.
After toughing out for the win against the Wests Tigers last week, the Roosters have again struggled to etch any consistency into their season.
Brian Smith’s men face the Knights next weekend and the Cowboys head across the ditch to face the NZ Warriors in Auckland who will be boosted by the news they’ve nabbed Feleti Mateo and Kris Inu from the Eels for next season.