Mini finds form in Roosters trial win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mini finds form in Roosters trial win

21/02/2009 11:37:22 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello showed signs his three years of injury torment are in the past with a starring role in his side's 16-12 Foundation Cup NRL trial victory over the Wests Tigers on Saturday.

Minichiello was a clear stand-out in the wet and greasy conditions at the Sydney Football Stadium, setting up one try and scoring another himself before sitting out the final half hour of play.

The former Test custodian, who has played just 25 games in three years due to spinal injuries, showed glimpses of his best by barging over Tigers halfback Benji Marshall to score in the 51st minute for a 16-6 lead.

Minichiello was also in the thick of the action when he set up a 70m try to Mitchell Pearce in the final minute of the first half.

However, replays showed Pearce grounded the ball well short of the tryline.

But as it is only a trial match, the referee could not send the decision for video review and awarded the try himself.

The Tigers appeared the better team late in the game, but could not convert try scoring opportunities into enough points.

Marshall put second-rower Willie Mataka across the line in the 67th minute to reduce the deficit to four points and set up a thrilling finale.

Taniela Tuiaki almost stole victory in the final seconds after a brilliant long pass from Marshall but the giant Tigers winger was denied a try after a head-high tackle by Ben Jones.

The win came at a cost for one of the Roosters' rising stars as rookie Rohan Ahern was stretchered off in the 32nd minute with a potentially season-ending anterior cruciate ligament knee injury.

Club officials are hopeful it is only a cartilage injury and he'll make a return in four-to-six weeks.

Roosters centre Mitchell Aubusson scored the opening try in the 26th minute after Pearce's cross-field bomb, while fullback Shannon Gallant crossed in the 35th minute for the Tigers off Marshall's grubber.

Roosters coach Brad Fittler was impressed with Minichiello's return from a full pre-season, and for his side bouncing back from last week's deflating 54-6 trial loss to St George Illawarra.

"He never stops surprising me, Mini, he was really good," said Fittler.

"I was sort of worried how he would handle the confrontation of it, it was great.

"I thought he looked confident. There's been a lot of talk about Anthony, I thought he just went out there as a player and did his job."

Tigers coach Tim Sheens was equally buoyed by the development of Marshall in the No.7 jersey.

But Sheens rued three poor refereeing decisions, the first when his player was impeded in the contest for the Roosters' first try, the second when Pearce scored short of the line and finally when Tuiaki was coat-hangered when trying to score.

"Overall if it was a competition game I'd be unhappy because you'd expect the extra officials to get it right," he said.

"We had the chance to win it ... at the end of the day I was reasonably happy considering the conditions which were a bit awkward and we got through without any major injuries."

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