The Roosters have continued their 2020 resurgence at the expense of the Broncos in Brisbane. Following up on their impressive Round 3 disposal of the Rabbitohs, the Roosters moved to four points on the competition ladder with a record-breaking 59-0 victory. And they did it without their most destructive attacking weapon, James Tedesco.
The drama started even before the Roosters boarded their flight to Brisbane, as superstar fullback Tedesco failed his temperature test and was subsequently left at home. Three further players had elevated temperatures on arrival, but were able to pass a final test before taking the field. Brett Morris was moved into Tedesco's position, with Ryan Hall taking his spot on the wing.
The Roosters started the game at pace, racking up the metres down the middle of the park. They had the first opportunity to score after four minutes, peppering the Broncos line before the Morris twins combined to break the stretched defence. A slick passing movement, and a decoy run by Boyd Cordner, saw the ball find Brett Morris. With the cover converging, he passed the ball one-handed to Josh who stepped inside three defenders to plant it over the line.
Four minutes later the Roosters worked the ball into the Broncos half and were rewarded on the last tackle with a six again call, thanks to some very sloppy ruck play. Two tackles later they put on a backline move, with Brett Morris taking Tedesco's role again, sending Joseph Manu over untouched after establishing a two-man overlap. Darius Boyd was caught flat-footed looking at a decoy runner as the Roosters went around the back. Halfback Kyle Flanagan guided the conversion between the posts for an early 10-0 lead.
The Broncos were falling into the same trap as they did last week against the Eels. The Roosters were dominating possession through timely penalties and six again calls and Brisbane were back-pedalling in defence as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner led the Roosters forward charges.
Into the 15th minute, with the Roosters yet to make a mistake, Victor Radley picked up Broncos forward Thomas Flegler and drove him into the ground. The ball came loose and the Roosters were on the attack again. The Broncos were able to hold them out this time and received a relieving penalty as they worked their way out from their own line. A couple of tackles later Flegler tried to force a pass and the Roosters had the ball again. The Broncos were playing themselves out of the contest.
With another six again call, the Roosters were in again, this time with Radley stepping off his right foot and barging his way over under the posts. With a quarter of the game gone the Roosters had built a 16-0 lead and the Broncos were struggling for air.
Josh Morris lost the ball on the Roosters' next possession and the Broncos had their first real attacking opportunity. They spread the ball to their left and Boyd put Corey Oates in the clear down the touchline. Brett Morris came across and tackled him into touch with a copybook cover tackle, just five metres out from the line.
Radley was beginning to dominate around the edge of the ruck, following behind the big men as they bent the Broncos defence, but it was his back-row partner Angus Crichton's turn to score the next try. Flanagan held the ball though the defensive line before slipping it to the unmarked Crichton. The Broncos were in disarray, with the Roosters crossing on almost every trip to that end of the field. Another Flanagan conversion and the lead was 22-0.
Ten minutes before the break the Roosters were in again, with Jake Friend scooting out of dummy-half, passing it to Radley who drew the fullback before sending Flanagan on his way. He converted his own try and the score at 26-0 was starting to look embarrassing for the home team.
From the restart Broncos prop Matt Lodge was penalised for a high shot and the Roosters were on the march again. A crossfield kick from Luke Keary was dropped by Broncos winger Herbie Farnworth. From the ensuing six tackles the Roosters tried to cut through the middle of the Broncos defence before spreading it wide again and crossing for what looked like their seventh try. The bunker decided that Broncos half Brodie Croft was impeded by a decoy runner.
Brett Morris went very close to scoring a try of his own, before Keary rubbed field goal salt into the gaping Broncos wound as the halftime siren sounded. The Broncos trudged off trailing 29-0 after a half in which they were totally dominated. It was the biggest halftime deficit in the over 30-year history of the Brisbane club.
The first set of six after the break was indicative of the whole game, with Broncos fullback Jamayne Isaako spilling the ball, sending the Roosters into attack again. They were able to hold them out and work their way up the other end of the field where an attacking raid ending disappointingly with a handover. From that possession Roosters replacement forward Isaac Liu waltzed through the centre of the ruck to send Keary on his way from halfway. The Broncos defensive effort up the middle was bordering on soft.
Three minutes later with the Broncos on the attack, Croft dropped the ball cold under pressure. The Roosters defence was rock solid and they were determined not to be breached.
The Roosters looked like being the next to score in the 55th minute after a sustained period on the attack, with multiple six again calls, penalties and finally the sin-binning of centre Jesse Arthars. With the defence spent, a Roosters passing play broke down out wide and the Broncos were able to hang on.
Sadly it wasn't to last, with the Roosters storming back up field with their next possession and young prop Lindsay Collins taking his turn to walk through the middle of the ruck and score under the posts. The conversion taking the score to 41-0. Memories of their 58-0 capitulation to the Eels in last year's finals came crashing back as cardboard cutouts were left begging for the game to end.
Crichton certainly wasn't finished, crashing over from dummy-half to take the score to 45-0 after 63 minutes. Eight minutes later the Morris brothers were at it again, sending Daniel Tupou over for his first of the night to take the score past the half-century mark.
With seven minutes left and the Roosters doggedly defending their line, Radley, who was one of the stars of the night, was taken from the field after twisting his arm badly in a tackle. As he applied ice to his elbow he was able to watch the Morris twins combine with Keary down the left hand side for yet another Roosters try. The conversion took the score to 59-0, the biggest losing margin ever for a Broncos side.
The game ended with the Broncos hard on the attack, being constantly denied by the well-drilled Roosters defence. Brisbane travel to Gosford next week where they face the red-hot Sea Eagles, who could add further to their defensive woes.