Newcastle Coach Adam O'Brien said post-game that he saw resilience in his side's performance - but that's not the way the Fox League host…
The finals come early for both the Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night, with their ladder positions meaning that if the finals were to begin this weekend, they’d be contesting an elimination final at Suncorp Stadium.
While, as it stands right now, they would contest a knockout final in the sunshine capital in the first week of the finals, their clash this weekend will be at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and the onus will be on the Roosters as they attempt to maintain their place in the eight.
The Chooks retained their place in the upper part of the ladder and kept the Sea Eagles out of it, with a 20-10 win over a depleted home side at Brookvale Oval last Thursday night.
Trent Robinson’s side had led 18-6 at halftime but while they failed to score a try in the second half, they were barely threatened against a side that were missing up to seven regulars in protest to the club’s Pride guernsey, which the Sea Eagles had rather hastily promoted.
The victory was anchored by fullback and captain James Tedesco, who gained some bit of revenge on his Sea Eagles counterpart Daly Cherry-Evans after the latter lifted the State of Origin shield for Queensland last month.
Tedesco and the Roosters have some bigger fish to fry, though, as they attempt to avoid missing the finals for just the second time since 2012.
Meanwhile, the Broncos will have had the week to think about how it all went wrong in their set 34-18 loss to the previously last-placed Wests Tigers at home last Saturday night.
Kevin Walters’ side went into that match as the hot favourites, but after scores were 12-all at halftime, the Broncos were caught on the hop by a side that cruelly had victory snatched from them by a controversial video referee decision against the Cowboys the previous week.
Perhaps the Broncos should’ve known what to expect from a side that had not only been battered from pillar to post all season, but also to whom they had lost their past three meetings against, including a 48-0 hiding at Leichhardt Oval in 2020.
They will be without Patrick Carrigan, who copped a four-game ban from the tribunal for his hip-drop tackle on Jackson Hastings which put an end to the Tiger’s season.
His absence will be a huge blow for the Broncos who dropped out of the top four as a result of the loss, with the Maroons’ player of the series to not return until their final round clash against the Dragons at Kogarah Oval, a venue where they have not won since 1998.
To the match at hand, and this will be the second meeting of the Roosters and Broncos this season, after the Chooks came from 10-0 down at halftime to score a dramatic 24-20 victory at Suncorp Stadium.
Both sides actually scored four tries each in that match, only for two missed conversions by Adam Reynolds to prove the difference as the Roosters showed their class in the sunshine capital.
Until their loss to the Wests Tigers, it was the Broncos’ most recent defeat on home soil.
It will also be the fourth (and possibly final) time they face off at the SCG, where the Roosters hold a 2-1 record in matches against the Broncos, though it was the northerners who won by 34-16 in Round 11 last year, spoiling the much-anticipated debut of Joseph Suaalii.
In that match, Victor Radley was sin-binned twice, becoming the first player since Cameron Munster in the 2018 Grand Final to be binned twice in the same match, as ill-discipline saw the Roosters crash to one of their worst defeats of the season.
Prior to that, the Roosters had won their previous two meetings at the iconic venue by lopsided scorelines, though this came at a time when the Broncos were experiencing a rapid regression following Wayne Bennett’s departure from the club.
But after a major overhaul at Red Hill in recent years, including the arrivals of a new coach (Kevin Walters), captain (Adam Reynolds) and CEO (Dave Donaghy), the northerners are poised for a September breakthrough in 2022.
In spite of this, the Broncos haven’t won a final since 2017, and have lost each of their past three finals matches by at least 30 points, and been held scoreless in two of them.
The Roosters’ recent finals record is also quite poor, with only one win (by a solitary point in the elimination final against the Titans last year) from their past four finals matches, including a straight-sets exit in 2020.
With the finals just over a month away, fireworks can be expected this Thursday night at the SCG as both sides look to put their premiership credentials on display to kick off Round 21.