The Sydney Roosters have marked Jared Waerea-Hargreaves' 250th game for the Club with a victory over the fourth-placed Parramatta Eels in a dominant 28-nil win at BB Print Stadium in Mackay.
It was Tricolours' first venture to Mackay since the 2017 pre-season, with that match was noted for the emergence of the likes of Sitili Tupouniua and Victor Radley. This time around, however, it was in celebration of Waerea-Hargreaves becoming just the fifth Rooster in the Club's long and esteemed history to notch up 250 games in the Red, White and Blue.
The Roosters shrugged off a scrappy first half to run away with a 28-nil victory, which marked the first time they have kept the Eels scoreless since 2013 in what was the 150th clash between the two clubs.
Joseph Manu amassed an incredible 331 running metres and two linebreaks in the unfamiliar position out on the wing, while halfback Sam Walker got the attack going with two linebreaks, two linebreak assists and a try assist. Returning front rower Siosiua Taukeiaho put in a strong performance from the bench with 120 metres.
A physical contest from the outset, both sides looked to assert their dominance through the middle of the field, and the defensive pressure from the Roosters forced an error in the first set of six, handing them a scrum in Eels territory.
The Tricolours' first opportunity was lost, however, as a looping pass to Daniel Tupou saw the towering winger bundled into touch just before the line.
Match: Roosters v Eels
Round 20 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay
Parramatta countered with expansive play from their own end, and an uncharacteristic error from James Tedesco handed their opponents further possession - but the Roosters' captain showed plenty of poise as he allowed a dabbling kick to go over the dead-ball line, which gave his side a seven-tackle set.
A comedy of errors plagued both sides in a bizarre start to the match as humid conditions heavily contributed, leading to ten errors and no points scored after a quarter of a match played.
Walker Puts Morris Over to Score First
Despite failing to notch together back-to-back sets, a number of resilient defensive efforts - a trademark of the Roosters, particularly in 2021 - saw halfback Sam Walker pick up a loose ball against the run of play. Following a powerful dummy-half charge from Joseph Manu, returning veteran Josh Morris got over the line for the game's first try as Walker finished off what he had started.
With Adam Keighran's conversion successfully curving over the black dot, the Roosters took a 6-nil lead after 26 minutes.
Easts brushed off their scrappy start and made it two tries in as many sets as Tedesco burst through the line to put Sitili Tupouniua over for a four-pointer - which earned the damaging forward a rare accolade by becoming the first Roosters second rower since 1944 to score in four consecutive games.
Keighran slotted his second conversion and with just over ten minutes left in the first half, the Roosters took a handy 12-nil lead.
Although a head-high tackle threatened to halt the side's momentum on the following set, another desperate effort to keep their opponents out saw Nat Butcher dive on a loose ball, keeping the Eels scoreless despite their considerable advantage in territory.
Tedesco Busts Eels Open and Tupouniua Scores
Now with newfound confidence, the Tricolours looked to chance their arm as half-time loomed, and while both sides had opportunities to capitalise, the scores remained as the sides headed to the sheds.
Just as the first half started, the second began with both teams trading back-to-back errors with neither able to gain ascendency, and it was a close call for the Roosters after Parramatta centre Tom Opacic dropped the ball over the line.
Not deterred in the slightest, the boys from Bondi went coast to coast as Walker sliced through the left-side defence of the Eels to touch down and begin the proceedings in the second half.
Keighran's conversion gave the Roosters a commanding 18-nil lead after 53 minutes.
Walker Glides Through to Get on the Board
A mistake in the ruck gave their opponents an opportunity to strike back on the following set, and while bounce of the ball saw Dylan Brown cross the line, the bunker uncovered a knock-on from Gutherson in the process in another close call.
Heading into the final quarter of the match, both sides continued to throw everything at one another with the humidity reaching an excess of 90%. While an escorting penalty saw the Red, White and Blue look to extend their lead through a penalty goal, Keighran's kick to hit the uprights in what was a let-off for their opponents.
A wayward pass from Parramatta ended with the Roosters in possession 20 metres out from the line, and after a Captain's Challenge saw them with consecutive sets in the red zone, a quick shift saw Tupou score a well-deserved try in the corner, sealing the result.
Despite the missed conversion, the Roosters took a 22-nil lead with just over ten minutes left on the clock - but it wouldn't be long before they went over again.
Holding off raid after raid from their opponents, Manu put the cherry on top as he took advantage of a penalty to streak away and score from a quick tap as his side ran away with a 28-nil victory.
Manu Catches Eels Defence Napping
The Sydney Roosters are now level with the Parramatta Eels on the competition ladder in fourth position and will face the Penrith Panthers in Round 21.
Sydney Roosters 28 (Josh Morris, Sitili Tupouniua, Sam Walker, Daniel Tupou, Joseph Manu tries; Adam Keighran 4 goals) def Parramatta Eels 0
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