The Sydney Roosters have once again showed that the side is the real deal with an incredible 42-16 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys.
With the back-to-back premiers facing the Cowboys without six of their grand final winning team from last year, as well as Jake Friend failing a head injury assessment after the Cowboys’ opening try, the Roosters would have been forgiven if it had been too much for the side to get over the line.
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But once again the side’s depth had shone with Matt Ikuvalu, the winger who replaced Brett Morris after he left the game during the warm up with a groin injury, scoring five tries, the first in the NRL since Souths’ Alex Johnston in 2017 and the first Rooster since Brian Allsop in Round 10 1955 to score five.
It was a stunning performance as the winger only found out during the warm up that he was playing with Morris clearly uncomfortable with a groin tweak.
He didn’t miss a beat, as the Roosters continued to go to the right and Ikuvalu had a field day.
After scoring one try in the first half, his four second half tries, as well as Luke Keary’s double blew the Cowboys off the field.
Incredibly, it was just 12-6 at halftime, despite the injuries to Morris and Friend.
The Cowboys, having lost Valentine Holmes before halftime, capitulated in the second. Ikuvalu even had his five tries in just 33 minutes as the Roosters’ first and last try scorer in an eight-try blitz.
The Roosters had scored all their points between the 31st and 64th minutes in a stunning performance.
Well, at least for the Roosters.
The Cowboys’ second half was savaged by commentators as they conceded five tries with some shocking defence.
“That was awful defence,” Andrew Johns said on Channel 9 as Luke Keary crossed for his second try in three minutes to blow the Cowboys off the field in the 52nd minute.
For the same try, Fox League’s Andrew Voss said “stop the fight, throw in the towel” as the Roosters ran riot.
It was six tries in 20 minutes and Greg Alexander said “in the space of 14 minutes, it’s gone from ‘we can get these blokes’ to ‘this is embarrassing’.”
“It’s looking like the Newcastle performance or the first 40 minutes against the Knights a fortnight ago was an aberration from what they’ve offered for the rest of the season,” said Alexander.
“The Warriors put them to the sword, the Eels last week minus Moses, minus Nathan Brown were far too good for them.
“It has been a disaster since we’ve returned. I don’t know what he [Paul Green] would even say to them downstairs, I don’t know where he can go from here.
“I don’t know if he’s got any answers, whether the Cowboys as a club have any answers before the end of the season.”
Soon after, Johns fired up again.
“The defence once again is not up to NRL standard,” Johns said as stand in hooker Lachlan Lam busted the Cowboys up the middle.
Cowboys great Johnathan Thurston called the side’s second half “diabolical”.
Incredibly, the Cowboys also had more tackles in their own 20m than the Roosters, a crazy stat considering the complete domination.
There was no support on social media either as the fans hammered the Cowboys’ horror second half.