Roosters embarrass listless Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Roosters embarrass listless Knights

By Steve Jancetic 01/08/2009 10:23:21 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle produced their worst performance of the season to leave their NRL top eight hopes in severe jeopardy after going down 30-18 to the last-placed Sydney Roosters at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday night.

Playing in front of 2010 coach Brian Smith, the Roosters did their best to impress their new boss as they ran in five tries to three to embarrass the home side in front of the Knights faithful.

The loss saw Newcastle slump to eighth on the ladder when a win would have left them one point outside the top four, while the Roosters remain last, tied on 14 points with fellow strugglers Cronulla.

Having challenged his players to show Smith what they were really about, Roosters coach Brad Fittler would have been delighted with what he saw as the visitors played with the sort of spirit and passion they had been lacking in recent weeks.

Newcastle seemed off their game from then outset with Jarrod Mullen putting a goal line drop out on the full to present the Roosters with an opportunity they gleefully accepted with Craig Fitzgibbon going over in the ninth minute.

Mullen made amends when he put Adam MacDougall away with Kurt Gidley backing up in support, but that was the last of the joy for the home side until Gidley did it on his own with a chip and chase for his second of the night on 65 minutes to threaten a comeback which never eventuated.

Instead it was the Roosters who looked like they were playing for their season, Willie Mason charging over from close range before Shaun Kenny-Dowall - who was due to be playing for Newtown at North Sydney Oval on Saturday afternoon before being recalled to replace Anthony Minichiello - burst out of dummy half to set up Mitchell Pearce's four-pointer.

Iosia Soliola barged through some feeble defence to make it 24-6 at the break, the game as good as over seven minutes after the restart when Seitamata Sa went over out wide for a 24-point lead.

The Knights have now lost back-to-back games since Smith announced he would forgo the last year of his contract at the Knights to link with the Roosters next season, but Gidley denied the upheaval was affecting the players.

"I knew it was going to be talked about after this game and two losses in a row since that, but the last thing that I'm thinking when I'm out there playing is what Smithy's doing next year or who's coaching here," Gidley said.

"I'm out there to play footy and I'm out there to do my job."

Smith claimed the Roosters had played their best game of the season and would be a thorn in the sides of other teams in the run-in to the finals, but he refused to buy into the idea that several Roosters had travelled to Newcastle with a point to prove.

"I don't think it really matters - all that matters is how you play on the night," Smith said.

"They did and we didn't. We tried hard ... but they kept coming back with something else as well."

While elated to break through for the win, Roosters skipper Craig Fitzgibbon said the performance didn't take away from the guilt that the players had played a large part in Fittler's demise as coach.

"We're all responsible - if the club feels the need to change the coach, that's because you're not playing well as a team," Fitzgibbon said.

"There's quite a few of us moving on now - it definitely affects you."

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