Sydney Roosters’ move to drop their focus on playing finals football, freed them up to claim just their third win of the NRL season, coach Trent Robinson said.
Captain Jake Friend, halfback Jackson Hastings and prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves led the Roosters to a 32-18 victory over Wests Tigers in atrocious conditions at Allianz Stadium on Sunday before the lowest ever NRL-era crowd of 3,622.
After a shocking start to the season, three-time minor premiers the Roosters still need to win nine of their last 12 games to qualify for the finals but Robinson said a decision to forget about that prior to the Tigers clash paid dividends.
“That got us a few weeks ago to be honest,” he said.
“We knew they were big games against Gold Coast and Canterbury and we focused on what was months away because we knew it was about time and we didn’t deliver.
“So this week we just focused on playing well against the Tigers.”
Friend was in everything in defence and attack for the Roosters, who were without stars Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner due to injury.
Tigers captain Aaron Woods and fill-in hooker Elijah Taylor tried hard to spark the visitors, but the Roosters were deserved winners.
Robinson said his side played the conditions, teeming rain on a sodden pitch, well.
“I’m very pleased,” he said.
“The guys worked really hard and played to the conditions.”
Tigers coach Jason Taylor bemoaned his team’s ability to do so.
“We didn’t play the conditions as well as we would have liked,” Taylor said.
“I was disappointed with our kicking and our halves (Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses) have put their hands up to that.”
The Roosters led 12-0 early through tries to Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou before Tim Simona hit back for the Tigers on the back of a sensational 80m effort.
Roosters star Blake Ferguson and Tigers winger David Nofoaluma traded tries late in the first half for the home side to lead 18-12 at the break.
An Aidan Guerra try in the 53rd minute again put the Roosters out to a 12-point buffer before James Tedesco slid in under the posts in the 63rd minute.
Roosters utility Connor Watson’s first NRL try in the 73rd minute sealed the Roosters win.
Tedesco was the Tigers’ best in his return from a shoulder injury as he did his NSW selection hopes no harm.
“He is still the best fullback in NSW for mine,” Taylor said.
“But I don’t know what NSW are thinking there.”
Roosters duo Mitchell and Isaac Liu could be set for extended stints on the sideline after suffering suspected syndesmosis in the first half. Neither returned to the game.
Waerea-Hargreaves was put on report for a second half high shot on JJ Felise.
Taylor was a late inclusion at No.9 for the injured Matt Ballin for the Tigers, who rested Origin rake Robbie Farah.
The win was the Roosters’ eighth straight over the Tigers.