The Warriors got off to a flying start, but it was the Roosters who took the chocolates on Easter Sunday with a 22-14 win at SCG.
Their first points came with a Reece Walsh penalty after James Tedesco held off Addin Fonua-Blake as he attempted to play the ball.
Five minutes later they scored through young winger Edwards Kosi.
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Their joy was short-lived, however, with striker Josh Curran leaving the pitch with a knee injury midway through the first half.
However, according to Fox League reporter Jake Duke, Curran refused to retire from the remainder of the match.
“They were about to put ice on that right knee but he refused it and is back on the bike peddling… not officially out yet,” he said.
The Roosters finally entered the board in the 28th minute. The Tricolores spread the ball left in scrum and Daniel Tupou nonchalantly caught a ball from Kevin Naiqama with one hand to score.
The Warriors then received a timely boost when Curran shrugged off his knee injury and returned to the field.
“A miraculous recovery from Josh Curran, he was almost done,” Duke said.
The Roosters leveled the scores early in the second half after Warriors hooker Wayde Egan was penalized for knocking the ball out in a tackle.
They then took the lead for the first time in the game through Kevin Naiqama. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dropped a Luke Keary Bomb, opening the door for Fletcher Baker to collect the ball and pass to Naiqama.
Eight minutes later the Roosters were back, this time through Sam Walker who turned away from a tackle to smack the ball away. The five-eighth teenager pulled off the conversion to give his side a 20-8 lead.
But the Warriors stayed in the game with a superb try four minutes later. Reece Walsh drilled through the middle before curiously cross kicking Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to score.
The Roosters extended their lead with a penalty goal after Adam Pompey was penalized for interfering with the ball.
FONUA-BLAKE “EXCEPTIONAL” IN THE BATTLE OF THE GREAT MEN
The stage was set for a tantalizing midfield battle between Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Addin Fonua-Blake – and it was the Warriors star who prevailed.
With Matt Lodge ruled out, it was up to Fonua-Blake to lead up front and the giant executor did not disappoint.
Fonua-Blake was busy in the first half and even came close to scoring the first try of the day after breaking through the Roosters.
“He beats five defenders with sheer power,” Fox League analyst Corey Parker said of the run.
“Addin Fonua-Blake was exceptional for the Warriors, he single-handedly carried his team in the first half. He certainly gave his team a platform to play on,” Parker added.
Shane Flanagan agreed the 26-year-old was ‘exceptional’ but also thought the Warriors
very, very good” halves also deserved recognition.
“Shaun Johnson’s kicking game was perfect and (Chanel) Harris-Tavita was good at the back and obviously (he) set up the first down.”
Fonua-Blake finished with a team-best 139 running yards, seven jump tackles, one line jump and 25 tackles with no misses. Meanwhile, Waerea-Hargreaves ran for 94 yards, made one tackle and had 15 tackles with one miss.
It came after Parker predicted that Fonua-Blake would really challenge the Roosters champion.
“(Waerea-Hargreaves) has his hands full with, in my opinion, one of the top three props in the game in Addin Fonua-Blake,” he said.
“He’s only 26, he’s got his best football under his feet at the moment but he’s just a big, powerful athlete who can play with the ball and without the ball.
“Addin Fonua-Blake has been in sublime form and without Matt Lodge today, more responsibility will fall on him. It should be a great contest in the middle.
THE WARRIORS DEFENSE IS BEAUTIFUL
The score will tell a different story, but the Warriors’ defense was the biggest talking point of the first half.
They entered the break with an 8-6 lead and full control of the game.
Coach Nathan Brown said before the match that he felt the team had “improved in some areas” and Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach believes that area is defence.
“They have a new resolve in their Warriors defense this season,” he said.
“They talk about their big improvement in the team, I think it’s their defence.
“They tackled so well in this game and Johnson gives them that little variation in their kicking too once he executes the footy they are a much better team.”
Parker agreed that the Warriors showed “defensive determination” – especially in the first half – and effectively shut down the big cocks.
Joey Manu was indestructible against the Broncos last week, but he only made 44 running yards and had no line breaks or tackles against the Warriors.
“They’ve done a tremendous job of silencing the Roosters stars,” Parker said.
The Warriors finished with 16 missed tackles to the Roosters’ 24.
THE ROOSTER’S FIRST HALF TROUBLES
The Roosters have suffered problems in the first half in consecutive weeks and Trent Robinson will have to find the solution quickly and smartly.
There was plenty to play for as the entire 2002 premiership winning team were on deck to watch the game in a celebration of 20 years since their grand final. But today’s Roosters looked lackluster in the top 40 and although they came on in the second half, they were a far cry from what many expected to see this season.
They entered the half by two runs and on the back foot when it came to game control.
It was already seen after trailing by 10 at halftime against the Broncos last week.
However, last week they were able to hit the reset button at half-time and come out within 40 seconds to score four unanswered tries and snatch the win.
They reset somewhat this week, scoring two second-half tries in Sunday’s clash – and winning – but never really found momentum.
That won’t be much of a problem over the next three weeks when they take on the Dragons, Bulldogs and Titans. But the four-week period that follows includes clashes with eels, panthers, sharks and the storm.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 4. Joseph Manu 5. Kevin Naiqama 23. Joseph Suaalii 6. Sam Walker 7. Luke Keary 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 24. Drew Hutchison 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Nat Butcher 16. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 9. Sam Verrills 11. Nat Butcher 15. Fletcher Baker 22. Daniel Suluka-Fifita. Substitute player: 18. Lachlan Lam
The Warriors Team: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Jesse Arthars 4. Adam Pompey 5. Edward Kosi 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 16. Aaron Pene 11. Euan Aitken 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Josh Curran 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Bunty Afoa 17. Eliesa Katoa 18. Taniela Otukolo. Substitute player: 25. Valingi Kepu
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