Brett and Josh Morris celebrated their birthdays early with a combined four-try haul and James Tedesco ensured his first match at Leichhardt Oval since leaving Wests Tigers was one to remember, as the Sydney Roosters romped to a 38-16 win in Trent Robinson’s 200th match as coach.
The win ensured the Roosters remained in equal fourth-place with Canberra as they prepare for the return of captain Boyd Cordner (HIA), Luke Keary (ribs) and Daniel Tupou (ankle) in coming weeks.
The Roosters will also be bolstered by Sonny Bill Williams as they aim to become the first team since Parramatta in 1981, 1982 and 1983 to win three consecutive grand finals.
On a night of milestones for the Roosters, Brett Morris scored two tries to become the fifth highest try-scorer in premiership history with 164 tries, while a double by brother Josh saw him move past former Brisbane great Steve Renouf into 18th place with 143 tries.
The twins turn 34 on Sunday but age is having little effect on their form or try-scoring ability, with Brett’s 54th career double coming in his return game from a back injury and taking his tally for the season to 11 tries in as many matches.
He surpassed former Manly fullback Brett Stewart (163) and is now equal-fifth with former Canterbury five-eighth Terry Lamb, with former Cronulla centre Andrew Ettingshausen (165) just one try ahead in fourth place.
Match: Wests Tigers v Roosters
Round 15 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
Josh Morris is equal with former St George winger Johnny King and just four tries behind Immortal Bob Fulton (147 tries), who is 15th.
Remarkably, it was the first time Brett and Josh Morris have scored two tries apiece in the same match.
Despite the try-scoring feats of the Morris twins, the star of the match was Tedesco, who ran 206 metres with the ball and made two line breaks, one line break assist and six tackle breaks as he performed a dual fullback and play-making role in the absence of injured five-eighth Keary.
Making his first appearance at Leichhardt Oval since 2017 when he was the Tigers fullback, Tedesco was jeered by the vocal crowd after conceding a penalty in just the third minute following a break by rookie winger Tommy Talau.
However, the 2019 Dally M Medal winner took little time to remind Tigers fans of what they lost when he left for the Roosters with a 30-metre line-break in the lead up to winger Matt Ikuvalu’s eighth-minute try following a loose pass from Luciano Leilua.
Another Tedesco line break was the catalyst for Brett Morris’s first try in the 15th minute after the Roosters shifted the ball to the Ikuvalu on the left wing and then to the right for Joey Manu to put the veteran winger over with a perfectly executed flick pass.
When Roosters second-rower Sitili Tupounuia burst into the clear off a short pass from prop Siosuia Taukeaiho before drawing Tigers fullback Adam Douehi to put Josh Morris over for a try in the 18th minute, the contest appeared all but over.
Brett Morris scores on the right edge
A heavy shot on Tedesco by second-rower Luke Garner gave the Tigers fans something to cheer but a successful Roosters captain challenge and an unsuccessful one by the home side were followed by Brett Morris’s second try in the 26th minute.
Trailing 20-0 at halftime, the Tigers needed to score first after the re-start and they got their wish when hooker Jacob Liddle dived over from dummy-half in the 46th minute.
When Benji Marshall put Doueihi over seven minutes later with a perfectly timed cut-out pass close to the Roosters line and Moses Mbye converted to reduce the defecit to 20-12, the crowd roared to life.
A one-on-one strip by Marshall on Roosters halfback Kyle Flanagan gave the Tigers fans more hope but it was short-lived as Tedesco combined with Taukeaiho to put five-eighth Drew Hutchinson over in the 65th minute.
Manu scored four minutes later and Josh Morris put the result beyond doubt when he crossed for his second try in the 72nd minute before Tigers winger David Nofoaluma scored a consolation try just before the fulltime siren.
Marshall puts Doueihi in as the Wests Tigers surge