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After finally appearing to find something nearing professionalism and form against the Sharks last week, the Roosters slumped to a frustrating loss against South Sydney to start Round 6.
The comfortable 26-14 victory for Souths was rooted in a committed and powerful pack who controlled the ruck and potentially could have played even straighter at times, such was their dominance in the middle third.
As usual, there were controversial moments, lucky and unlucky bounces of the ball and the refs were at it again, however, the simplicity of the problems faced by the Roosters is as obvious as the proverbial nose on their face.
Throw any cliché you like at the Bondi boys. Whether it be ‘you have to go forward before you go sideways,’ ‘defence wins big matches,’ or ‘defence is a mindset,’ and they all point straight back a basic fundamental flaw in the Roosters execution.
The Chooks were dissected, chipped at and eventually busted wide open by a clever side who saw the avenues through the centre of their defence and the tri-colours lacked the commitment to counter.
Criticism will continue to fly in the direction of Jake Friend after another poor game, Blake Ferguson will cop the usual roasting for his quirky decision making and Cooper Cronk isn’t clicking with his outside runners the way Trent Robinson had hoped.
Yet all of this misses the mark considerably in terms of the inconsistent results. Those players may as well be sitting on a deck chair at Tamarama as long as the big men up front continue to be bullied and controlled through the centre of the field.
It was stunning how easily Damien Cook made ground, linking with runners and without a significant change in attitude, where the Roosters show far more mongrel and aggression, they will remain inconsistent.
The Bunnies join the Roosters on three wins and three losses and with more efforts like Thursday’s, things are looking up.
The twilight match on Friday saw a Storm team, having slipped out of the top eight for the first time since Noah steered his ark to safety in the Turkish highlands, find some form and impose their presence on the competition.
The dangerous practice of questioning their credentials based on a couple of close and unusual losses was always fraught with danger and Craig Bellamy made sure those in the media who had raised questions would be seriously rethinking their words.
The Storm were sharp, efficient and clinical in their execution; a stark reversal from some of their recent efforts. The hapless Knights were gallant throughout, yet competitions aren’t won with gallantry.
The Storm started well, then pushed on and finished the game clinically in a performance that reeked of Melbourne at their best. They looked like a team who had been given a right serve from their mentor during the week.
Needless to say, the Storm are well and truly back in the eight and it is hard to see them slipping out in the near or long-term future. Of course they will be there come September.
WIN Stadium hosted an unexpected high scoring shootout between two old foes who usually manage to bash each other in a battle for the bragging rights of southern Sydney.
It was an absurdly open affair that continued the try-scoring frenzy on which the Dragons have been, yet surprisingly, the Sharks came along for the ride for much of the game.
The visitors were belted with injuries and fought on tirelessly in a courageous performance of which they should be proud. Losing Paul Gallen early and subsequent injuries to Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham put immense pressure on rotation and the Sharks eventually cracked.
When Luke Lewis went down late in the game, the nightmare of the Sharks’ trip to Wollongong was complete and the Dragons puffed their chests out to the tune of six wins and zero losses.
In the end, a 40-20 result helped those who had speculated on a high scoring affair and left the Sharks with some serious wounds to lick. The Dragons will march on and a date with the Warriors is looming.
Every Friday, I sit down late at night and attempt to convey the complexity and unexpectedness of the first three matches and each week it gets a little more challenging.
The results and stories continuing to unfold often defy logic and prediction, and Round 6 didn’t let anyone down.