They are the NRL’s premier defensive unit, but the Sydney Roosters have a habit of conceding big points quickly.
Such significant defensive lapses ended their hopes of back-to-back premierships last season, and their dramatic win over Canterbury last start shows Trent Robinson is yet to get a hold on his side’s occasional epic defensive lapses.
Robinson led the Roosters to the 2013 title on the back of one of the game’s greatest ever defences, dubbed the Bondi Wall, which yielded a record six shutouts in the course of the season.
But late last year that wall began to crack and points came in a flood against the Roosters rather than a leak.
That was illustrated starkly in their final two matches: in their preliminary final loss to the Rabbitohs they conceded 32 straight points.
The week before they led 30-0 against North Queensland before the Cowboys piled on 30 points to level the scores. Only a James Maloney field goal secured the Roosters’ semi-final win.
No side has conceded fewer points than the Tricolours this season, but last week against the Bulldogs those intermittent defensive demons again surfaced.
The foundation club notched up a 22-0 lead in the first 25 minutes before Canterbury fought back to lead 28-22 after 59 minutes.
Late tries to Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings and Jackson Hastings led the Roosters to their seventh successive victory.
NSW back-rower Boyd Cordner said it wasn’t good enough from the Roosters.
“That was pretty unacceptable to let them back into the game like that,” Cordner said.
“We pride ourselves on defence and there are a fair few areas we can work on to keep the momentum going into the finals.”
Queensland back-rower Aidan Guerra said the positive in the win over Canterbury was that the Roosters were able to gain control of the contest again.
“There are games when we don’t go into it with the right mentality but I don’t think that was the case against the Bulldogs,” Guerra said.
“We went out there and we were playing good football and you just have to be that little bit off and they stepped up their game and we took our foot off a little bit.
“To gain that momentum back and get that win in that game we were pretty proud of that.
“We obviously pride ourselves on keeping low numbers in defence but there was just as much quality in fighting back and getting that game in control than dwelling on those (negative) points.”
THE BONDI FLOOD – SYDNEY ROOSTERS RECORD OF CONCEDING BIG POINTS QUICKLY:
Round 21: Led Canterbury 22-0 after 25 minutes before the Bulldogs put on 28 successive points in 34 minutes. Three late tries to the Roosters gave them a 38-28 win
Preliminary final; conceded 32 successive points after leading Souths 12-0 early, before going down 32-22 to end their NRL title defence
Semi-final: led 30-0 just prior to halftime, before the Cowboys clawed back the deficit to even keel with 23 minutes remaining. A 76th minute James Maloney field goal gave the Roosters a 31-30 win.
Round 26: The Roosters led Souths 22-2 after dominating the first hour of the contest, before conceding three tries in 11 minutes. The Tricolours eventually regrouped to hold out for a 22-18 win.
Round 17 v Sharks: The Roosters led 24-0 just before halftime, before a Wade Graham try opened the scoring for the Sharks, who clawed their way back to 24-18. The Roosters pushed out to 28-24 before a 78th min try to Jeff Robson gave Cronulla their greatest ever comeback win.