Sydney Roosters are enjoying an eight-match winning streak, but coach Trent Robinson has implored his side to lift their game a month out from the NRL finals after a series of worrying defensive lapses.
The Roosters can move into second place on the NRL ladder with a win over Parramatta at Allianz Stadium on Saturday. However Robinson on Friday raised concerns about recent matches in which his side has leaked big points over a short period of time.
The Tricolours led Newcastle 32-0 last weekend before allowing the wooden spoon favourites to lay on 22 points in 25 minutes at Hunter Stadium, before a late James Maloney try sealed a 38-22 win for the visitors.
The week previous the Roosters led Canterbury 22-0 before allowing 28 points in 26 minutes, before escaping with a 38-28 victory.
The Roosters remain the NRL’s best defensive unit but Robinson isn’t impressed with the manner in which they have repeatedly let their guard down.
“I woke up Monday morning feeling like it (the win over Newcastle) was a loss in some areas,” Robinson said.
“So that drove us this week, about what we need to do to improve. If you allow your ego to continue on after a win for a couple of days you miss an opportunity to improve.
“If you can understand that you can go on a run and still improve and make sure you don’t hit hurdles: That is our task at the moment.
“We are not at our best at the moment and we are trying to improve our game. If we win we go top two and that would be a nice spot to be in with two rounds to go.”
A nine-match winning streak would be a record for the foundation club under Robinson since he took over in 2013.
Robinson said he had concluded his rotation policy, which has allowed Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner, Aidan Guerra, Isaac Liu and Kane Evans to be rested in recent weeks.
“It is after the last game of the season we will know if it has worked, but they are fresh now, they don’t look like they are fatiguing,” Robinson said.
“I would have liked to have done it last year, I am feeling more confident about the depth of our squad this year and allowing those players to rest and come back. I don’t have all the answers but I know those guys are fresh at the moment.”
Robinson said he wasn’t sure when Shaun Kenny-Dowall would return but didn’t want to speculate that his season may be over. Brendan Elliot will continue to play on the Roosters’ right wing in the absence of Kenny-Dowall against the Eels.
Pearce returns at halfback from his rest against the Knights. Jackson Hastings has been pushed out onto an extended bench.
On the back of their win over Penrith in Darwin last week, Parramatta have lost Will Hopoate for the round 23 clash with the Roosters. Ryan Morgan will replace Hopoate in the centres.
* The Roosters have won three straight against the Eels at Allianz by a combined margin of 130-10, with the past two results (56-4 and 50-0) being the Roosters’ biggest wins under Robinson.
* The Roosters have been awarded the fewest penalties in the competition at an average of 5.7 per game
* Despite conceding over 20 points in their past two matches, the Roosters have maintained their record this season as the best defensive team in the competition, conceding easily the fewest points per game (13.1) as well as the fewest tries (2.3) and line breaks (3.3) per game
* The Eels have scored just 17.9 points per game, only the Dragons and Panthers have scored fewer. The Roosters on the other hand are averaging 23.8 points per game, the third most in the NRL.
* Eels winger Semi Radradra leads the NRL tryscoring list for this season with 18 tries from 14 games
Statistics courtesy of Fox Sports Stats.