While some will suggest the Roosters stole this game in the final minutes, the ‘Steggles Soldiers’ showed more than enough to prove they not only deserved the win and a finals spot, but will certainly be competitive if they get their chance.
The score board read Roosters 18 d Souths 14, the strong crowd of nearly 19,000 at the Sydney Football Stadium were treated to a pearler of a game.
The fire between these two teams is always there, but given their close proximity on the NRL ladder and the fact that the 2010 NRL season is headed towards the business end – this was ‘game on’.
As expected the big Souths forwards rumbled over the advantage line early. Dave Taylor and Sam Burgess have been in plenty of positive headlines this year, everyone knows what big humans they are – but it’s just gobsmacking to watch these giants smash through opposing defenders.
They are truly the key to Souths. While the Bunnies played well, so much relies on their wrecking balls doing plenty of wrecking. Not just breaking the line or offloading, but their impact in defence is contagious.
Hits, spills and shoulder charges from either Burgess or Taylor send a ripple through not only their enemies – but they teammates too. It gets their mates fired up, their blood rippling and Souths lift a gear.
But tonight, the Bunnies were also helped by some fortunate bounces of the ball.
They got plenty of early ball, helped by some lucky repeat sets – all of which led to mounting pressure on the Roosters. Faloon breaking through for Souths early.
But so good was the run of play South Sydney had – they probably needed to notch up more points in this handy period.
The Roosters were battling hard, defending well considering. When they did get their limited touches, they always looked dangerous.
As the possession evened out, the Roosters continued to outshine their opponents and show exactly how far this team has come under Brian Smith.
With Minichiello back in his old position of fullback and seemingly fit and healthy these days, he was getting back to his damaging best. Chiming in at the right time and sniffing around the ball carrier, always ready for an offload.
When Minichiello pushes through near the ball carrier regularly, many times without ever getting a pass – you know the man they call ‘The Count’ is at full fitness and looking threatening.
Carney and Pearce are proving comfortable together, with Braith Anasta also a handy early ball receiver – playing a hybrid Lock role of sorts.
The Roosters really have a unique structure in this formation. They have options everywhere and all the options are good ones.
Pearce can turn the ball inside better than most, giving his running forwards good room and ideal angles.
You’ve got Braith running hard to the line, putting the defence in two minds.
Then it might be a Todd Carney play, a jink, flick or even a kick – the opponent has no idea.
The Roosters have a well balanced squad this year. They’ve had the nucleus for a while, but with a top-shelf coach and some talent and experience thrown in – it’s working.
Carney has been a proven performer, but Jason Ryles was always a risk. The former Saints big man is prone to giving away penalties, regularly gets injured and sometimes looks like he is struggling.
But Ryles has been in vintage form this past few weeks, his experience too proving value in a pack with some younger chargers in it.
Beating the Bunnies tonight will inject a tonne of belief into this Roosters side. The timing is perfect as their run to the finals intensifies.