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Roosters Fall Short in Season Opener

Sydney Roosters have suffered an 28-18 loss to the Dolphins in the NRL’s season opener at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Playing in memory of the late rugby league immortal Arthur Beetson, the Roosters struggled to overcome a fresh-faced Dolphins side who proved too strong in the warm Queensland conditions.

With Victor Radley and Matt Lodge ruled out late in the second half, the Roosters activated their 18th man, Fletcher Baker. While Felise Kaufusi was awarded the inaugural Artie Legacy Medal, for his efforts throughout the game.

The Tricolours made an impression from the beginning, keeping the Dolphins behind the 50-metre line for their first ever NRL set. James Tedesco broke the line in the ensuing Roosters play, demonstrating his strength as fullback early.

Brandon Smith was called upon by the independent doctor in just his sixth minute as a Rooster to undergo a head-injury assessment (HIA), injecting fellow Eastern Suburbs debutant, Jake Turpin, into the game.

It looked as though the Dolphins were bound to score the opening try one minute later as Euan Aiken scrambled to the line with the ball, offloading to Jeremy Marshall-King in the process. The hooker flicked a passed to winger Tesi Nuia that was ruled forward by the touch judge, halting any early momentum for the home side.

A brilliant kick from Luke Keary caused Jamayne Isaako to knock the ball on mid-air three minutes later. Daniel Tupou and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii scrambled for possession of the loose ball, with the 19-year-old centre unfairly imposed upon by Brenko Lee in the process.

Referee Chris Butler had no choice but to send the play upstairs, to where the on-field decision of no-try was overturned, after footage demonstrated the Samoa international grounded the ball in-goal.

Suaalii Scores First Roosters Try of 2023

Sam Walker converted the Roosters first try of the season to give the visitors a six-point lead.

Needing a response, the Dolphins looked to Marshall-King who broke the line in the 15th minute, offloading a pass to fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who chased in support, scoring under the uprights. Isaako kicked the Dolphins first NRL conversion two minutes later to level the scores.  

After passing his HIA, Smith was eager to re-enter the game on a high note, following a Dolphins error that saw Lindsay Collins gain possession off the restart. Smith charged at the line, only to be held up as he reached out.

In the play that followed, Tedesco flicked a short ball to Drew Hutchison who crossed from short-range putting the Roosters back in-front. Walker added the extras to make the difference 12-points.

Tedesco Sends Hutchison Over

Momentum shifted in the game when the Roosters lost their captain’s challenge after it was deemed Nat Butcher knocked the ball on, despite strong on-field argument from the Tricolours that it hit his chest.

In the 35th minute, Marshall-King set up Mark Nicholls under the posts, with Isaako slotting the conversion to level the scores as half-time approached.

An error from Naufahu Whyte in the first set of the second half opened the door for the Dolphins. The Brisbane-based team forced two goal-line drop-outs in the minutes that followed, using the dominant field position to add another four-points to the board through Connelly Lemuelu. Isaako put the Dolphins six-points ahead of the visitors.

Instructed by the experienced Felise Kaufusi to run the ball, 19-year-old Isaiya Katoa opted not to kick on the last play, sending a pass right to Isaako who snagged his first try of the day off a right-foot step to lose the Roosters defence. The winger converted his own try to give the Dolphins a 12-point advantage.

Victor Radley collied with the hip of Kenny Bromwich in the process of making a tackle with 30 minutes left of the game, sending the newly re-signed Rooster to the sheds for a HIA.

The Dolphins capitalised off a Roosters error in close range of their try-line six minutes later, with the Red, White and Gold feeding their scrum to the right, finding Isaako on the wing for a double. Isaako couldn’t convert from the wing, leaving the score at 28-12.

Egan Butcher was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle in the 62nd minute, leaving the Tricolours a man down for 10 minutes.

Four minutes later, Keary chipped a kick in-goal to Tedesco, who couldn’t gather the ball. Thankfully, Tupou pounced, and after the footage was reviewed by the Bunker the Roosters were awarded four points, with Walker kicking his third conversion of the day to bring his team within 10.

Tupou Claws One Back For The Roosters

Tensions built-up in the dying minutes of the game with both sides looking for more points, but ultimately, the Dolphins would claim the opening-round win, their first on the NRL stage.

Sydney Roosters now turn their focus to Round 2, where they take on the New Zealand Warriors in their first home game of the season at Allianz Stadium. Purchase your tickets now for Saturday's double-header. 

Sydney Roosters 18 (Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, Drew Hutchison, Daniel Tupou tries; Sam Walker 3 goals) def by the Dolphins 28 (Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Mark Nicholls, Connelly Lemuelu, Jamayne Isaako 2 tries; Isaako 4 goals)

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.