You can never discount a Wayne Bennett-coached side and the Dolphins showed that as they pulled off a remarkable opening round upset in their first ever game with a win over the Sydney Roosters.
The NRL’s newest side were able to make the most of their chances as they defeated a Roosters side who were unlike themselves with basic errors and a pedestrian attack.
Despite eventually winning the game, it would be the Roosters who opened the scoring.
That came after a spill from Jamayne Isaako and Joseph Suaali’i was there to pounce and score, albeit somewhat controversially in the eyes of some with the way he grounded the ball.
The first Dolphins try was not too far away, however, when Jeremy Marshall-King was able to slice through some flimsy Roosters defence to find fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow on the inside.
An error from debutant Isaiya Katoa then gave the Roosters perfect field position and they made the most of it as James Tedesco put Drew Hutchison over with a simple pass.
The game see-sawed and was full of ebbs and flows, as Marshall-King swept left to find Mark Nicholls who crashed over the line.
Wiley veteran Bennett knew that his side was well and truly in the contest and with a simple message of ‘keep it simple’ to his players, they did just that and built on the first half.
They went up by six when Connelly Lemuelu burst onto a lovely short ball from Sean O’Sullivan who sucked in defenders and the young utility did the rest to bust the line and reach out for a score.
The Dolphins then went up further when the shift right found Isaako who cut inside and was able to score.
Katoa then showed off his skills when he combined with Tabuai-Fidow for Isaako to score a second in the corner with no defence in sight.
The Roosters will have plenty of things to improve on as they deal with a possible suspension for Egan Butcher and potential head injuries for Victor Radley and Matt Lodge.
The Roosters would get the last laugh as Luke Keary kicked ahead for Daniel Tupou who made the most of the chance to score but that would be all she wrote.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was open about his side’s loss and admitted they lost the forward battle and were outworked.
“Our forwards sort of got dominated in the ruck and they opened us up a couple of times in the first half and definitely the start of the second half,” said Robinson.
“We got outworked and got what we deserved in the end.”
For Bennett, the key for him with the new side has been about building foundations and those foundations were the veteran players leading from the front.
” That’s what we build the foundations on, we can’t build foundations on young men that don’t have a lot of football behind them, it just doesn’t work that way,” said Bennett.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Jeremy Marshall-King (DOL)
2. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (DOL)
1. Jamayne Isaako (DOL)