In a tough but entertaining contest, a number of the Sydney Roosters most promising youngsters have upset an experienced Wests Tigers side 28-22 at Kirkham Park in the Club's first trial of 2021.
Match Highlights: Trial vs Wests Tigers
Taking on a 33-man Wests Tigers squad with over 150 NRL games worth of experience, the youthful Roosters fought tooth and nail in what was an exciting contest, showing plenty of skills with the ball in hand and showcasing their trademark desperation in defence.
Halfback Ronald Volkman dazzled with a two-try performance, while Max Bailey - the only squad member with NRL experience in the Tricolours - alongside fellow forwards Naufahu Whyte, Fletcher Baker and Ben Thomas laid the platform for the side with some powerful runs through the middle of the field.
Sydney Roosters head coach Trent Robinson was in attendance, keeping a close eye on the performances of the young up-and-comers alongside North Sydney Bears coach Jason Taylor.
Donning the brand-new 2021 away strip, the Roosters' start was more than ideal with ill-discipline from the Tigers handing over a prime opportunity to strike, which saw winger Sione Hopoate crash over in the corner after just four minutes. Fellow winger Tom Carr slotted a slick conversion from the sideline to give the side an early 6-nil lead.
The Tigers would hit back just a few minutes later, however, as errors crept into the Roosters camp, the home side would take advantage through a try from dummy-half to level the scores.
Desperate defence from Whyte prevented the Tigers from extending their scoreline, with strong charges from captain Bailey inspiring his teammates in a battle of attrition through the middle.
Whyte would then stamp his mark in attack, sending halfback Ronald Volkman through the line with a beautifully timed offload. Unfortunately the Red, White and Blue were unable to capitalise as the siren sounded for the first drinks break.
Fatigue would kick in during the second quarter, with both sides chancing their arm with some enterprising football, only for their good work to come undone with uncharacteristic errors.
Some individual brilliance from the Roosters would put them on the board next, with Volkman taking on the defence on last tackle and pulling off a brilliant chip, chase and regather to see him dot down under the posts. Carr would kick his second goal to put the side up 12-6 with just ten minutes to go in the first half.
The final exchanges saw a plethora of opportunities squandered by from both sides, with a questionable knock-on call against the Roosters seeing the Tigers go over with the sides going go into sheds level at 12-all.
It was a perfect start for the side in the second half, with the Tigers knocking on from the kick-off and handing back possession through a drop-out. While there were no points scored from the next set, the platform was laid for the men from Bondi to make their mark.
A strong break from centre Josh Bergerman put the Roosters back in prime position, but an unfortunate obstruction penalty denied Tony Satini from touching down. The hulking winger would shut down a backline shift with a clever one-on-one strip, however, the ball would be lost soon after.
Flexing their NRL experience, the Tigers would force some pressure through a line dropout, but desperate defence coupled with a string of penalties gave momentum back to the Tricolours.
Back in the attacking zone, Ben Thomas would reap the rewards for his strong stint off the bench, crashing over the line from a well-timed pass from Ben Marschke. Carr's conversion put the Roosters ahead by six after 53 minutes.
The see-sawing nature of the contest would continue as the Tigers would score from another dropout soon after. The conversion on the siren would once again see the sides locked up heading into the final quarter at 18-all.
With Robinson directing his troops heading into the last 20 minutes, an inspired Volkman would produce another flashy piece of play, intercepting the ball to streak away for a 90-metre runaway try. Despite his best effort, the talented halfback failed to convert his own try from the sideline.
As the Tigers failed to capitalise on their opportunities, the Roosters continued their charge downfield, forcing an error through another towering spiral bomb. Looking sharp with the ball in hand, Volkman was unlucky not to grab his hat-trick as a wayward pass from his teammates was deemed forward.
The sides would exchange tries with the Tigers taking advantage of an error from a kick, while Whyte would score a well-deserved try after some slick hands from the Roosters' right-side put the backrower over after displaying some great support play.
With five minutes left, Volkman's conversion curved between the posts, with the scores at 28-22 to set up a grandstand finish.
An unlucky bounce of the ball gave the Tigers possession just ten metres from the Roosters' line, but great awareness from Tevita Alifa sealed the match for the mighty Tricolours with an intercept.
The Club will now look forward to taking on the Canberra Raiders next Saturday, 27 February at Seiffert Oval in their final trial match, before the NRL season officially kicks off on Saturday, March 13 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Sydney Roosters (Ronald Volkman 2, Sione Hopoate, Ben Thomas, Naufahu Whyte tries; Tom Carr 3 goals) def Wests Tigers (Tukimihia Simpkins, Alex Seyfarth, Allan Fitzgibbon, Zac Cini tries; Jock Madden 3 goals)