It ain’t rocket science Roosters, the speared Sharks and the Storm back in the eight

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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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.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • April 14th 2018 @ 9:29am
      Paul said | April 14th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Nice summary of the three games to date, Stuart. There were stand out things for me from each game as well.

      Billy Slater needs to get rid of the spear pass he throws while holding the ball in one hand. The first try should have been called back for a pass that went only two metres forward and later in the game he did the same thing, only this time the forward pass was picked up.

      I hope people don’t write off Newcastle on the strength of the result. They kept at it for the whole 80 minutes and can be pretty satisfied with their overall effort.

      Easts weak point has been exposed; their pack just isn’t up to it this year, especially with the rule changes that make getting back 10 metres a priority. They lack depth in the forwards and would have been better off buying some new talent up front, rather than spending on Cronk & Tedesco. Speaking of Teddy, I hope he doesn’t think he’s a lock for the NSW number 1 jumper. He, like the rest of the Roosters, is down on form and confidence. Robinson needs new blood to bring on some “mongrel” as you suggested. As it stands, they’ll probably make the but Politis is no chance of getting his premiership this year.

      Much has been written about the Warriors in particular, but the Dragons are quietly ticking along very nicely. The true test for them won’t come during the SOO period, but after, exactly the same as last year. They need as many wins in the bank before the start of June to take pressure off themselves in the back end of the season.

      By the way, Dufty just a bit quick. Made a couple of Sharks players look pretty silly last night.

      • April 14th 2018 @ 11:01am
        Peter Phelps said | April 14th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        ….. not so much silly as old.

        Billy’s spear pass needs refinement rather than elimination, another couple of degrees to ensure it isn’t forward and it will be a killer. For an old bloke himself, he ain’t doing too bad though – would love to see him play on next year.

        As for PG, I don’t like seeing anyone get injured but gee this guy has played a couple of seasons too many. If this is the end of his career, it might be a blessing for everyone especially Paul Gallen.

        • April 14th 2018 @ 12:13pm
          Greg said | April 14th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          Dally M Lock of the year last year and equal 4th overall would suggest otherwise

          • April 14th 2018 @ 2:24pm
            souvalis said | April 14th 2018 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

            Also awarded club player of the year..so,the best player in the club and best lock in the game for 2017 has played a couple of seasons too long ? Pretty feeble argument…

        • April 14th 2018 @ 12:14pm
          Paul said | April 14th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          A few old forwards need to get in Gallen’s ear and tell him what it’s like to manage injuries once you’ve given up the game. He’s probably the same as most of us forwards, you think the injuries will clear up once you stop playing but they surely comes back to bite you as the years pass.

          I agree, best for him give the game away now.

        • April 14th 2018 @ 12:26pm
          Nostradufus said | April 14th 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

          Hi Peter,
          perhaps it’s tempting to focus on player ages as they grow older whilst forgetting to look carefully at what they still contribute. Despite his 37 plus years Gals contribution is still well in spec to hold his place in the top 17 at Cronulla
          Gals efforts and effectiveness are still high quality and his stats confirm it.
          Indeed the only stat that is on the slide is that Gal is wisely playing less minutes.
          Despite how battered his melon looks, he is certainly not playing like someone who’s gone on a couple of seasons to long ( me thinks).
          As for the Knee injury, if it’s a mid grade medial tear he’s looking at only a month or so of rehab. It’s a lateral stability injury and he’ll be back running strait lines pretty quickly, Of course it’s true that many people of good will simply want him to go out whilst he’s still playing well. He will not disappoint. He’s just a player of rare longevitity, just like Beaver Menzies was.
          Remember the old truism also works in reverse.
          ‘f you’re good enough your still young enough!’ (just)…

          • April 14th 2018 @ 9:03pm
            Kenw said | April 14th 2018 @ 9:03pm | ! Report

            A consistent knock on Gal through the years has been his tendency to be the tuba in the string section. His relentless motor and single-mindedness can get in the way of the game plan. His stats have been outstanding year in, year out which has more than made up for it and you’re right to say that they are still good enough to hold a place. But as his output drops just a little bit there’s a legit question to be asked about whether the Sharks would be better off with a younger forward in there.

            As an aside, Fifita pulled out one of those games yesterday when you realise just how destructive he can be. He was the player that kept Cronulla in the game in the first half. They didn’t miss a beat when Gallen went off but, Saints going to sleep for 5 mins in the second half aside, Cronulla going down 13+ looked a certainty from the moment Fifita left the field.

    • April 14th 2018 @ 10:16am
      Duncan Smith said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

      Five long days in the wastelands of the bottom eight. An epic journey into the abyss of soul searching and devastation in which the Melbourne Storm went to the brink of despair. But at last, a week later, they’re back in the top eight.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2018 @ 10:25am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Nice, not sure if you saw Dane’s article. Similar sentiment.

        • April 14th 2018 @ 11:16am
          Duncan Smith said | April 14th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          Yes, I’m ripping him off blind. All credit to Dane.

      • April 14th 2018 @ 11:03am
        Peter Phelps said | April 14th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        They have lost 3 games and a couple of those were by very close margins. I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

    • April 14th 2018 @ 10:26am
      jimmmy said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      I find it difficult to believe those whipp were writing the Storm off. The two teams thated look strongest on paper to me were the Storm and the Roosters. Of those two only one has a forward pack who has put its head down and mannned up. The Storm are a top four side.
      Of the improvers the Dragons look very good to my eye. I don’t see a lot of weakness in their team.
      Hunt now has Widdop to calm him down when things get tough and both halves are looking very comfortable.
      The Warriors? Ask me after they play the Dragons.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2018 @ 10:37am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        That will probably be the acid test for the Warriors. Or perhaps for the Dragons?

        • April 14th 2018 @ 12:18pm
          Paul said | April 14th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          I think that game will be the acid test in the season to that point but don’t think the result is as much an issue as how both sides play. Both teams need to have a red hot go and if one or the other loses by a few points, no harm done. If one side gives the other a touch up, that’s another matte entirely.

      • April 14th 2018 @ 11:21am
        Peter Phelps said | April 14th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Jimmy, those same whipp had the Cowboys as slam dunk runaway Premiership winners (currently 14th) and the Roosters the finalists and minor premiers (currently 6th). Now round 6 is hardly a full season but it is pretty clear how easily the pundits get sucked into there own hype.

    • April 14th 2018 @ 10:44am
      kk said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      Stuart Thomas,

      You certainly meet the challenge each week and deliver with a glorious turn of phrase.

      An exasperated Cooper Cronk looked like a science teacher who had been assigned
      to a ‘Dummies’ class, paining that perhaps it was he who had been sold a dummy.
      Without TKO (absent with a doctor’s certificate) the night was hard yards and lonely.

      Arise Sir Lachlan Fitzgibbon. Find another like him at the round table and the Knights
      will win many battles.

      As the full time whistle blew the Shark hospital tent were occupied by the big four.
      Gallen, Fifita, Graham and Lewis, the prime movers at Cronulla. Coach Flanagan
      just had another deep crease added to his battle torn forehead.

      I have always had a soft spot for veteran referees Ashley Klein and Gavin Badger.
      When they were paired together visions of the cartoon characters ‘Heckle & Jeckle’
      came to mind. They certainly kept the players bemused and will encourage them to
      acquaint themselves with the rule book and hear less whistle, more time for play.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2018 @ 12:35pm
        Stuart Thomas said | April 14th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        thanks KK, Friday is always a late night and I sometimes wonder exactly what I have submitted when I get up on Saturday morning.

    • April 15th 2018 @ 2:03am
      Bobby Farrin said | April 15th 2018 @ 2:03am | ! Report

      Not sure how after 6 rounds anyone can project the season for any team though – still 18 rounds to go and anything can happen. Teams not playing well could pick up their form and teams playing well could drop form too -Happens every year and has been so since 1908.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 9:56am
        Peter Phelps said | April 15th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Very true but with a quarter of the season gone, it would be a brave man who put his shirt on the Eels getting the minor prem as some suggested pre season.

    • April 15th 2018 @ 2:06am
      Bobby Farrin said | April 15th 2018 @ 2:06am | ! Report

      Although Parra has lost 6 they still can make the 8 – 30 is all you need so it will be 13 out of 18 for them to make it. Still enough games to do so – and they are not that far out of the 8 too – 6 points

      • Roar Guru

        April 16th 2018 @ 7:41am
        BA Sports said | April 16th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        Actually 28 points would be the current projected 8th place number given that 8th place is currently occupied by teams on 3 wins and 3 losses.

        But Parra don’t look like scoring points. Their next four games are games they would have penciled in as wins before the start of the season but now it is hard to see them winning any of them..But they need to find a way to win at least 2, probably 3.

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