Match Report Round 20
Knights 12 vs Roosters 30
Sydney Roosters were untroubled in defeating Newcastle Knights. Wayne Bennett described his team as lacking in execution. I personally didn’t think his team was that poor but Wayne has always marked his teams harshly. I hope he doesn’t go through with it.
The match was described by players from both teams post-game as “tough”, as predicted. However I thought that the difference between the two was evident very early on. The Rooster’s speed was too much for Newcastle players to cope with, certainly to the level that they could “strangle” them with quality tackling and a defence to pressure the Roosters into error or frustration.
In fact, whilst the Roosters did have to work hard I would say that it was disappointing to the home team and fans that this was not more of a contest. The score suggests how the control went for most of the 80 minutes
Some of Newcastle’s “experienced, heavyweight, stand-over” presence was hindered by the suspension of Snowden although most of the physical stuff is in his power carries. Mason’s early injury didn’t help them in that cause either. Perhaps this might be a bigger and better contest next time – if there is one for the Knights in 2013.
The area where the Roosters gained that ascendency was in their carries – and don’t they have some variety as well, as volume in this department. Between them all they repeatedly left Knight’s defenders strewn – dead marines we call them, where the tackler is still lying on the ground as the ball-carrier is up and playing the ball. Domination and deterioration of the opponents D line is happening when you achieve this. They did it repeatedly throughout the entire 80.
Minichiello still has some of this in his determined carries; Roger T-S and Jennings with speed and footwork; Tupou with his high top speed and size generates great power and pretty tidy technique in his play the ball too; SBW, Cordner, Nuuausala and JWH all terrorise tacklers with size and footwork; Guerra is awkward, Aubusson quick and down before you can get under him, Moa and O’Donnell all bony elbows and knees. That’s what Knight’s defenders and plenty of others have struggled with from a physical point of view this season.
Whilst the Roosters never really tore the Knights D to bits by any means it did get the Roosters onto the front foot, over half way and without too much trouble for kickers being pressured into errors. And they did it all without taking any great risks and not a lot of energy on their yardage sets. They enjoyed much the same luxury on the ground contests in Newcastle’s end of the ground too but I felt there were lots of kick errors and others without much quality from Maloney, in the main, but Pearce and Friend too.
This let Newcastle off the hook too. Apart from that the Knights rarely troubled their in-control opponents. The length of the field try from a Roosters bomb by Boyd was the only adventure they had from their own end all day. Boyd also threw one of his specials to James McManus for the only other try managed by the home team.
My tip was that the Roosters young wingers might get a work out from Mullen’s kicking but that went out the window too as everything was about field position. A couple of bombs were tossed up but without any go forward to allow time or a plan to creative kick to generate some momentum the young fellas escaped til another day.
The attack of the team appeared to be totally dependent on the ability of someone, anyone, to generate a quick play the ball. With Rooster domination in this tackle area too very few eventuated for the Knights and so it was for the attack. The almost league-wide fascination for a “repeat set” from a grubber kick and trap in the in-goal proved, as it so often does, about as potent as the proverbial piddle in the ocean. There was no way that one lousy repeat set of tackling was going to cause the Roosters any more than a moments concern which it did for the compulsory shift, pass out the back to Boyd for the McManus try. Ch 9’s A Johns called it a quality play by Roberts who did “square up the D” before passing out the back.
However my own feel is that the right edge of the Roosters was poor on this play as they were often early in the season. SKD and Mitchell Pearce are incumbents with issues long standing so it’s hard to know if SBW and/or Aubusson and young RTS are also culpable or just not good enough at this stage to overcome the problem. It will be very interesting to see if the top teams really work this area over at the back end of the season in the HUGE games. It would also be great to know if the Roosters coaches think its “not that big a problem” only to find out too late that those top teams let it sit until they really needed to expose it. Intriguing.
The other disappointment out of this game was that Newcastle didn’t get close enough to give Pearce a shot at dealing with a pressure game with pressure moments requiring quick thinking and clever adjustments.
That and SBW on report. The contact with Mason’s head is obvious and so is the point of contact. Suspension would seem likely. How much is debatable I guess. What will be more disturbing is that SBW has been using this method of “tackling” for a very long time. It doesn’t seem like the administrators are going to change their minds on shoulder charges and it also seems like SBW is not going to change his habit. What coach Robinson saw as not much of a problem in his post-game comments might be a much bigger long term problem for the big Kiwi – it’s much harder to unlearn a skill than to learn it.
Repeat sets might be “paramount” as Rooster legend Brian Fletcher said on Fox on Saturday afternoon but repeat offenders are rubbed out. That would be a huge blow for SBW his club and the sport.
PS Looks like Michael Jennings did his homework on Jarrod Mullen’s spiral left to right (or one of his coaches or team-mates tipped him off); great anticipation and execution.
PPS SBW charged with Careless grade 3. As Fox Sports top commentator Warren Smith suggested on twitter this morning – it does seem like we need to be educated on the NRL definition of a shoulder charge.
PPPS Darius Boyd was not charged by the NRL. However for everyone witnessing his inflammatory and demeaning actions post his try he is guilty as charged. Foolish and petulant.