Worm turns for Roosters as Tedesco torments Titans

The Roosters have breathed new life into their season with a 36-18 win over the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday.

With a refreshed James Tedesco running rampant and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves laying a platform up front, the Roosters chalked up their eighth win of the season to close within two points of the top eight.

The Roosters got the scoring started in the fifth minute through a Joseph-Aukuso penalty goal before Tedesco laid on a try for Egan Butcher and the visitors had an 8-0 lead.

Three minutes later Butcher turned provider when he powered into a hole and sent a pass back inside for Tedesco to streak away and score his eighth try of the season.

Come the 23rd minute and the Roosters had a third try when Aukuso-Suaalii soared high to pull down a Sandon Smith bomb and the Tricolours had an 18-0 lead.

Powerhouse prop Lindsay Collins crossed in the 29th minute after brilliant lead-up work by Joey Manu and two minutes later Tedesco found open space and put Nat Butcher away for the Roosters' fifth of the day.

If not for some desperation defence by AJ Brimson in the 33rd minute Collins would have had a double but it was only a temporary reprieve as the Roosters extended their lead to 36-0 early in the second term when Fletcher Baker crossed for his first try of the season.

Baker's try came courtesy of more Manu magic after the centre climbed high to bring down a Luke Keary bomb before flicking the ball out the back to Baker who plunged over.

Roosters winger Daniel Tupou looked to have broken Anthony Minichiello's club record of 139 tries when he crossed in the 57th minute but the try was ruled out by the bunker for obstruction in the lead-up.

On the back of a string of six-again calls deep in the Roosters' red zone it was Brian Kelly who finally broke the drought for the Titans when he burrowed over from dummy half in the 66th minute to make it 36-6.

The Titans added more respectability to the score with nine minutes to play when Sam Verrills got out of dummy half and put Chris Randall in for a try to make it 36-12 with Jayden Campbell's conversion.

The home side had the final say when Erin Clark showed plenty of strength to get the ball down despite the attention of three defenders but it was the Roosters coming away with a morale-boosting win that keeps them well and truly in the finals hunt.

Match Snapshot

  • The Roosters had eight line breaks compared to five for the Titans.
  • Roosters props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves made an outstanding start to the game with 151 metres from 14 runs in his opening 35-minute stint. He finished the day with 210 run metres.
  • James Tedesco was dynamic for the Roosters with three tackle breaks, two try assists and 238 run metres.
  • The Roosters have won their past 10 games against the Titans.
  • The Roosters hit 30 points for the first time this season.
  • Titans forward David Fifita made his 100th NRL appearance.
  • The Titans have not beaten the Roosters at Cbus Super Stadium since Round 10, 2016.
  • Jayden Campbell's successful conversion of Brian Kelly's try was his first ever shot at goal in the NRL.
  • Roosters forward Nat Butcher was placed on report in the 70th minute for a hip drop tackle on Phil Sami.
  • Origin prop Moeaki Fotuaika came up with 164 run metres and six tackle breaks for the Titans.

Play of the Game
The Roosters' opening 40 minutes was as good as any they have produced in 2023 with five quality tries. The best of them was scored by Maroons prop Lindsay Collins in the 29th minute courtesy of a Joey Manu try assist. The superstar Kiwi jumped into dummy half 20 metres out and put a couple of moves on the defence before getting a freakish flick pass away for Collins to power over the line to leave the Titans shellshocked.


What they Said
"I felt like we played with a bit more freedom than we have in a while so that was really positive but we also had to dig deep defensively to take the game away. If we did that well and kept taking the right options in attack we kept mounting the scoreboard. Ride the wave of the positive of what we did with the ball and defensively for a long period of time. I felt like our yardage defence and midfield improved a lot. Teddy was a bit fresher and he was the biggest difference in the game today. It was great to see him playing that way and he dominated that game today." - Roosters coach Trent Robinson

"The wheels have come off a little bit today but the course is still going to stay the same. We are still going to keep working hard and then freshen the boys up a little bit going into the next couple of weeks to make sure our performances are a bit better. It was good for us to keep working hard right through to the end but we just weren't there at the start physically. We just have to dust ourselves off and keep working." - Titans interim coach Jim Lenihan

What's Next
The Titans host the Cowboys at Cbus Super Stadium in Round 22 while the Roosters head to Brisbane to face the Broncos at The Gabba.


Story first published on NRL.com

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Martin Lenehan, NRL Senior Journalist