Saturday 16 December 2017 / 11:59 PM

FRIDAY HANGOVER: ROOSTERS v BRONCOS

The Sydney Roosters ended a six-match losing streak while the struggling Brisbane Broncos slumped to their seventh loss in nine games courtesy of a 32-16 result at Allianz Stadium on Thursday night. The Roosters looked anything but a team with only three wins to their credit, surging to an early lead and rarely taking their foot off the Broncos’ throat. The visitors were as bad as they’ve been at any stage of their horror run, lacking direction with the ball, outmuscled in the middle of the park and badly exposed on the edges. The Roosters had the game under lock and key with 13 minutes to go, when ex-Bronco Dale Copley powered over for his second try to establish a 20-point advantage.

Sydney Roosters 32 (Dale Copley 2, Latrell Mitchell, Blake Ferguson, Shaun Kenny Dowall, Boyd Cordner tries; Sio Siua Taukeiaho 4 goals) defeated Brisbane Broncos 16 (Jarrod Wallace, Tom Opacic, Darius Boyd tries; Corey Parker 2 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Halftime: Roosters 18-6. Crowd: 6,308.

Copley that, Wayne!

Rarely has rugby league revenge ever unfolded so sweetly. Man-of-the-match Dale Copley, abruptly dumped by Wayne Bennett and the Broncos during the off-season so the club could bring in James Roberts, had one of his best-ever games and totally dominated the player who took his spot at Red Hill.

As good as Copley was, Roberts had a shocker. Copley strolled over for the opening try after a dreadful defensive read by his opposing centre, before setting up Blake Ferguson for the Roosters’ third thanks to the simplest of one-on-one misses by high-priced flop Roberts. While Roberts continued to struggle and added two errors to a forgettable night’s work, Copley notched his second try during the second half.

The Broncos need so much more from Roberts, particularly in light of their hefty backline injury toll and the influence of the man he replaced, Justin Hodges. He was touted as a NSW certainty during the pre-season, but on current form you’d back Copley to win a Maroons call-up before Roberts gets a Blues debut.

Slumpsville

Forget slump, it’s a full-blown crisis for the Broncos. They may have been missing three Origin forwards (one, Sam Thaiday, who it should be noted is in horrible form) but the Roosters were also without their best front-rower, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and are running second-last with just three previous wins in the bank.

The top-four ship has sailed, and the Broncos desperately need to get back on track with the Titans, Panthers, Warriors and Tigers all in good touch and gunning for finals spots. As we outlined following the loss to Penrith, missing the finals altogether isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

A tribute to ‘Big Artie’

The Roosters embraced the spirit of Retro Round with a specially designed Arthur Beetson tribute jersey, a wonderful tribute to the late, great Immortal and one of the Tricolours’ most iconic players.

Fergo’s miracle play

The Roosters cracked the Broncos’ resolve with one of 2016’s most freakish tries in the 49th minute, featuring two bombs, two superb takes and two offloads – the second a phenomenal effort from Blake Ferguson, who had an absolute blinder at fullback.

Bunker strikes again

It might not quite be the worst decision of the year – there’s been some absolute abominations – but it was definitely in the top bracket and yet again left 99 percent of league fans completely exasperated about the Bunker’s extraordinary incompetence. The call to deny Broncos forward Herman Ese’ese a late try showed no feel for the game whatsoever.

No matter how Todd Greenberg and Tony Archer try to spin it, the Bunker is getting just as many decisions wrong as the old video ref system – if not more. It has been an expensive joke and one of the NRL’s most embarrassing innovations. No amount of technology can help officials’ lack of consistency in their interpretations. There’s no way Archer can survive until next season.

The saddest aspect is the $3.2 million the NRL spent on setting up the Central Command Centre – along with the millions it will cost through the course of the five-year lease at Eveleigh – could do so much to help the game at junior and grassroots level.

Into the Boyd

If ever there was a perfect audition for the NSW captaincy, Boyd Cordner produced it on Thursday night. The backrower terrorised the Broncos all night, scoring a powerful try, running for a game-high 180 from 18 carries, and racking up 23 tackles (no misses) in one of the finest displays of his career. Still only 24, Cordner deserves to be one of the first forwards picked in Australia’s next Test squad, and shapes as one of the key men in the bid to end Queensland’s Origin dominance.

[YouTube – VAC 2016]

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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