Roosters crowing about top defence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Roosters crowing about top defence

By Todd Balym 06/09/2008 03:00:58 PM Comments (0)

Buoyed by their first defensive shutout in four years, the Sydney Roosters believe they are finally ready to give the 2008 NRL finals series a shake.

The Roosters secured fourth place and a home final against Brisbane next Friday night after a courageous 10-0 victory over St George Illawarra in atrocious conditions Friday night.

The victory has come at an extreme cost - with Willie Mason (ACL knee) to miss the rest of the year and fellow star recruit Mark O'Meley (high tackle) on report - but the Roosters are crowing about their defensive commitment on the eve of the finals.

It is the first time since round 16 in 2004, when they beat Wests Tigers 56-0 at Campbelltown Stadium, that the Roosters have held a team scoreless.

The Roosters went on to claim the minor premiership that season but lost the grand final 16-13 to a Bulldogs side which featured now-Roosters Braith Anasta, Nate Myles, O'Meley and Mason.

"I thought the way we played was pretty similar to semi-final football," Roosters skipper Anasta said of the gritty win.

"Our defence was unreal, probably the best all year. I thought it was pretty ferocious at times.

"To be honest the whole team after the game felt so confident that they weren't going to break the line at all and it didn't look like that at all."

The Roosters do, however, face a tough return to finals football after three years out when they host the Broncos at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Brisbane held Newcastle tryless in their 24-2 win Friday night and are well poised for a backdoor assault on the premiership.

Anasta says the Roosters are extremely wary of the star-studded Broncos lineup and owe them after going down 20-14 in a thriller at the SFS in round two this year.

"They're a huge challenge," he said.

"They're a great team and always seem to lift in the semi-finals.

"They've got classy players, Origin players, rep players and they beat us here the last time we played so they're one up on us and it's a big game for us."

Roosters coach Brad Fittler is also confident with how his side is placed heading into his first finals series in charge.

The return to fitness and form of fullback Anthony Minichiello is a "massive, massive bonus" while the performances of Craig Fitzgibbon since being stripped of the captaincy two weeks ago have also improved remarkably.

"He was brilliant, he was just heroic," Fittler said of Fitzgibbon.

"He kept coming up with hits and coming up with plays til the death."

Fittler had no concerns over O'Meley's high shot on Dragons prop Jason Ryles which was put on report, or Setaimata Sa's heavy hit on Ben Creagh off the ball.

"I have seen other tackles and blokes getting away with those shots," he said of O'Meley's hit.

"He was falling at the time and you've just got to wait and see. I think it was alright."

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