The Roar
The Roar


Young send-off 'over the top', Radley sin-bin 'ridiculous' says Robbo as Roosters reduced to 11 on nightmare night

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
5th April, 2024
4150 Reads

Sometimes in rugby league, it seems like everything that can go wrong will.

That was the Roosters in the first half: they trailing the Bulldogs 26-0 at the break, playing with 12 after a send off for Dom Young and shorn of two of their stars after both James Tedesco and Sam Walker were forced off with concussions.

Yet in the second half, they staged a mighty comeback to give the Bulldogs the mother of all scares, scoring four tries in a row to start the second half before Matt Burton’s third of the night secured the result late on, with the game ended 30-24 in their favour.

The Chooks kept fighting and Trent Robinson will be immensely proud that his side – who scored with 11 men after Victor Radley was binned late on – kept it going until the final play.

The English winger was walked for a high shot on Canterbury fullback Blake Taaffe – who himself was ruled out with concussion as a result – and could have very few complaints.

He raced from the line to shut down the play but caught Taaffe flush in the face with a swinging arm. Young had been struggling badly before his dismissal and might benefit from what will surely be a fairly lengthy sit down.

“He hit him in the jaw…but it was open-handed, it was lower than shoulder height,” said Trent Robinson.


“If that’s the standard that’s fine, but that’s a new one for me. I feel like that’s lower than what’s been sent off before. It just feels like we can set a new standard here again.

“We’ve had guys not even go for 10 for less. I feel like that was a bit over the top. There’ll be a lot more send offs in our game, there should be, if that’s the case.”

He will be joined in the dock by Radley, binned late on for a hip-drop on Stephen Crichton, who was lucky to limp out of it without any serious injury – a decision Robinson labelled ‘ridiculous’.

“Connor’s the one that tackles him from behind and twists his ankle and then he [Radley] falls on that ankle,” he said.

“How they got to that decision, that’s incredible. That was below par.”

Prior to that, Walker had been the victim of an accidental knee from Dogs captain Stephen Crichton, causing the independent doctor to intervene. The halfback failed his HIA and was ruled out.


Then, Tedesco was trampled by Viliame Kikau as he made a trysaving tackle, getting his head in the wrong place and ending up in a heap. He was clearly concussed and there was no option but for him to leave.

In between we got the return of two players from lengthy drug bans with Michael Jennings activated as the 18th man following the Roosters’ two concussions and Bronson Xerri a late elevation to the side in place of Blake Wilson.

Jennings was given a warm welcome, being smashed into the post pad by Kurt Mann in a hit straight out of the WWE, while Xerri had a quiet evening while chaos reigned around him.

Toby Sexton had been called into action from the extended bench with Taaffe ruled out due to foul play and Harrison Edwards also left after another head knock. All in all, there were seven HIAs on the night, four of which were failed.

Tedesco, Walker and Taaffe are all out of next week – Easts travel to Newcastle, the Dogs to Melbourne – and Edwards, who was classed as a Category 2, will be lucky to make it. Kurt Mann also broke a hand but played over an hour.


Canterbury’s strange night

The carnage is the headline, but the footy was exceptional at times too.

Amid constant rain at Accor Stadium, the Dogs put on an exhibition in the first half, richly deserving their 18-0 lead prior to the send off with Burton and Kikau dominating.

Cameron Ciraldo can only wonder where that all went in the second half, however, as with a hefty lead and a man extra, his side put the cue in the rack and allowed their opponents to stage an unlikely revival.

This was Burton at his best, constantly using his bigger frame to challenge the line, but the story was Kikau and Reed Mahoney.

The hooker has been belligerent all year but often hasn’t backed up his enthusiasm with skill.


Today, he had that aggression from the first tackle – forcing an error out of Young – and then brought his skill too, showing strong pass selection and play-calling to vary the tempo and, when necessary, push the envelope to the edges.

It was there that the Dogs’ made the running early on. Despite the wet conditions, they weren’t afraid to hit Kikau and Crichton early and saw big benefits.

The logic would dictate that with a man extra and a lead to defend, Canterbury could just shut up shop, but in rugby league, that often has the opposite effect.

Once you stop throwing back, even a depleted opposition can pile on the possession and get results. That happened here as an overly conservative Doggies empowered their opponents, who really had nothing to lose, and let them back into the game.

They won in the end, so Ciraldo can be happy with that, and he’d have certainly taken it before the start.

Yet the feeling that Robinson might be the happier coach at the end – and that Ciraldo will have been prouder of some of their recent defeats – pervades.


“That was a weird one,” he said.

“The first 30 minutes was the best footy we’ve played that I can remember. Then we had our worst 40 minutes of the season.”

The Roosters’ resilience shows up big time

Trent Robinson has coached over 350 games of elite footy and none of them can have started worse than this.

Well before the send off, before the two head knocks to two of his most important players, the Chooks were getting battered.

Young made a mistake in the first set – with Easts losing a challenge in the process – followed by Canterbury scoring direct from the scrum with Joseph Suaalii hardly covering himself in glory defensively.

More than once the edge defence on the right was made to look very ordinary by Kikau and Crichton, partly due to an apparent injury that Young was carrying that limited his movement before his dismissal.


After the 20th minute, nothing really mattered from a tactical perspective and, at 26-0 at the break, the game seemed done.

The question for Robinson was about how his side would respond to terrible adversity, both self-inflicted and not, and he would have been impressed by what he saw.

Egan Butcher and Naufahu Whyte got more minutes than might have been expected and responded well with tries, and behind them, a trio of Joey Manu, Luke Keary and Brandon Smith kicked into gear.

With two playmakers out and a man light, the leaders needed to step up and, despite things going wrong everywhere, they did.

Keary and Manu were exceptional in particular, and Robinson will take no end of hope from their ability to match the occasion in front of them. They’ll have to again next week, when Tedesco and Walker, plus Young and probably Radley, will all be out again.