The Sydney Roosters must buck a nearly decade-long trend to defend their NRL premiership after being pitched into a do-or-die semi-final clash with Canterbury next week.
After looking like a runaway freight train for the last three months, Trent Robinson’s side was stopped in its tracks by Melbourne in their 20-18 qualifying final loss at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
Not only are the minor premiers staring down the barrel of going out the back door in straight sets, recent history suggests they face a titanic struggle to hoist the Provan-Summons Trophy on October 4.
Not since Wayne Bennett led Brisbane to the 2006 title has a team lost in the first week of the finals and recovered to win the season decider.
Since 1999, only three teams, along with Canterbury in 2004 and Melbourne in 1999, has a side brushed off a week 1 finals loss and gone on to win the premiership.
Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck said he and his teammates weren’t treating their loss like it was a fatal blow to their premiership aspirations.
Directly after fulltime, captain Jake Friend gathered his teammates on the Allianz Stadium pitch and demanded they not hang their heads.
“As soon as the whistle went, you could see everyone was down as if we just lost the competition,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.
“Jake Friend was good to get us all in and make sure we do what we do normally, make sure we go and say thank you to the crowd, we all went to the change room together. We’ve just got to stay tight this week.”
While Tuivasa-Sheck has the breakout star of the 2015 season and has the rugby league community singing his praises, he said he deserved to shoulder a big portion of the blame for their loss to the Storm.
The No.1 was kicking himself after coming up with a key error on his own tryline which led directly to Kurt Mann’s 54th minute go-ahead try.
“I could have executed a lot of those plays to get us out of trouble,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.
“That’s again all those little things that stuffs us up. A small thing on a small thing creates a big error and that’s how we lost the game.”
“I think there was a lot on my behalf.”
FIRST UP WINNERS
How the eventual NRL grand final winner have fared in the first week of the finals since 2006
* 2014 – South Sydney 40 defeated Manly 24
* 2013 – Sydney Roosters 4 defeated Manly 0
* 2012 – Melbourne 24 defeated South Sydney 6
* 2011 – Manly 42 defeated North Queensland 8
* 2010 – St George Illawarra 28 defeated Manly 0
* 2009 – Melbourne 40 defeated Manly 12
* 2008 – Manly 38 defeated St George Illawarra 6
* 2007 – Melbourne 40 defeated Brisbane 0
* 2006 – Brisbane 4 lost to St George Illawarra 20