It has been a big week in rugby league since South Sydney Rabbitohs superstar Latrell Mitchell ended his and opponent Joey Manu’s seasons in a spiteful addition to the ‘Book of Feuds’ at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
That’s all we have spoken about for a week.
It’s become so consuming on social media, members of both Mitchell and Manu’s families have come out and begged people to move on.
After all the controversy, it’s easy to forget the Rabbitohs put 54 points on the Roosters and only really extended themselves for a few periods during the game.
The Roosters were running on fumes long before their showdown with their archrivals. In a twisted way, perhaps it was good for them that we were all talking Latrell Mitchell and Joey Manu since last Friday rather than the score.
Ricky Stuart’s Canberra Raiders couldn’t have cared less what happened to the Roosters last week. Their entire season was on the line on Thursday night in Mackay.
This was meant to be about the Raiders. Keeping their season alive.
Instead, the Roosters dragged themselves out of the dirt again and proved once more just how great a club they are winning 40-16 and they doing it without Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who was ruled out just before kick-off.
All signs pointed to the Raiders.
While Matt Ikuvalu scored for the Roosters early, it was Canberra’s two tries before and after that would have sent alarm bells ringing through Trent Robinson’s coaching box.
Elliott Whitehead crashed over in the 5th minute and Josh Papalii in the 18th.
It’s not like the Roosters to bleed tries like that. Both times, Roosters tyro Siosiua Taukeiaho was there.
Flat-footed, heels dug into the dirt, couldn’t stop the Green Machine.
Some might find him underrated, but Taukeiaho is the heart of the Roosters – the health metre they go back to.
Canberra had all the momentum. Then the game went into a rhythm. A rugby league arm wrestle.
The Roosters welcomed it like a warm blanket.
With the Raiders’ season on the line, the Roosters grew instead of Canberra. The Tricolours found their way. It doesn’t matter who they throw on the field.
Raiders invited trouble and the Roosters were happy to burn them.
Seven minutes into the second half, Roosters rookie Egan Butcher went to the line inside his own half and dropped a ball back on the inside to a flying James Tedesco. Incredibly, the Raiders weren’t ready for it. Sydney scored on the next play.
You don’t play finals footy if you can’t pick up Tedesco floating ahead of your defensive line.
The game was gone then.
Later, Jack Wighton grubber-kicked for the in-goal and failed. The Roosters transitioned into attack faster than Canberra could stop them and the Roosters roared up-field.
Adam Keighran got his hat-trick in the 50th minute. Canberra just couldn’t keep up.
So many like writing the Roosters off but Robinson has instilled a system at his club that can be barely challenged. No matter who goes into that jersey, they play. They run. They push up.
Under fatigue, athletes do different things.
It’s quite clear that under fatigue, an athlete in a Roosters jersey grows another leg.
They play like their lives depend on it.
While no expert is mad enough to predict the Roosters to come close to lifting the trophy, the scary prospect is what they can do to opposition sides and their campaigns.
The Roosters are the premiership assassins that the game didn’t know it needed.