Luke Keary of the Roosters is tackled by Jason Clark (left) and Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs.
Luke Keary of the Roosters is tackled by Jason Clark (left) and Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Left is all right for Roosters

TRENT Robinson had one instruction for his Roosters as they fronted up for a wet-weather scrap against traditional rivals the Rabbitohs.

"Keep left!"

Once again it was that attacking edge that did the damage when Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary both drifted to that side, with Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou going over for two of their three tries as they did just enough to stave off a brave second-half comeback from Souths.

The Roosters won 20-6 but at one stage in the second half it looked set to be a whole lot more as Sam Burgess failed to re-emerge from the dressing room after half-time following a failed concussion test.

While the Bunnies closed the gap to eight points through debutant winger Sitiveni Moceidreke, the Roosters took control again at the 57-minute mark when Tupou finished off another superbly conceived left-edge raid and all of a sudden it looked like the Chooks would run away with it.

To their credit, the Rabbitohs - at times inspired by the dynamic running games of Cody Walker and Damien Cook - dug in and finished the game the stronger but couldn't quite find a penetrative blow when the game was up for grabs.

The damage was done early, with the Roosters going over twice in the first 15 minutes.

Mitchell continued his sizzling start to the season, taking advantage of a delayed ball out the back from Pearce opened up space for a running Keary, who timed his pass to the young centre who strolled over.

It was always going to be a difficult task for rookies Moceidreke and Siosifa Talakai to stop the Chooks' dynamic left edge attack and in that one play Robinson saw enough to ram home the point at half-time.

"Trent Robinson basically held up a road sign at half-time that said 'Keep Left'," sideline commentator Matt Russell revealed on the Fox Sports coverage.

"He wanted his men to keep going that way, knowing that was their strongest attacking side and the Rabbitohs' weakest defensive side."

 

Mitchell Pearce of the Roosters looks to offload against the Rabbitohs.
Mitchell Pearce of the Roosters looks to offload against the Rabbitohs. DAN HIMBRECHTS

The proof was in the pudding when Tupou went over 17 minutes after the break for what proved to be the match winner and it was only some staunch goal-line Rabbitohs defence and a momentum swing that put Souths into attack for much of the last quarter that stopped the bleeding.

Not that the Roosters don't have weapons on the other side of the field.

Michael Gordon had an outstanding first half and he scored arguably the best try of the game when he timed his support run perfectly inside Joseph Manu who caught and passed it in one motion to put his fullback through a gap after receiving the ball from Keary.

While the Rabbitohs were brave and came back into the game in the second half, their problems started when they couldn't capitalise on good field position early.

On three occasions it was Robbie Farah to blame with two poor kicks that didn't get through the Roosters' defensive line and a poor short side option that led to a dropped ball by Tom Burgess.

Adam Reynolds is widely considered one of the best attacking kickers in the NRL yet he wasn't getting his hands on the ball when his team needed him most.

Throughout the 80 minutes the Rabbitohs looked at their best when the ball was in the hands of Cody Walker, Alex Johnston or Damien Cook.

Cook has been superb off the bench throughout the 2017 season so far but when Michael Maguire weighs his contribution against Farah's it might soon cause a rethink.

In the absence of Greg Inglis the Rabbitohs are starting to look like a team that will rely on Walker in particular for points and he was superb, breaking the Roosters open with a big break in the fourth minute that could have led to the opening try of the game.

He made several other half breaks that almost led to try scoring opportunities and Maguire may start to wonder if those chances could be turned into points more regularly with the superior leg speed of Cook backing up through the middle, alongside replacement fullback Johnston.

News Corp Australia


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