A Sunday chook roast missing 4 superstars was always going to be a difficult task, but we didn't expect that to quickly turn into 6 superstars missing.
We all know how hugely important the Stewart brothers are, plus of course the added loss of action man Buhrer and the long missing T Rex added to a big quartet, but the unexpected loss of Wolfman made that 5 missing before kick off.
From the opening sets it was clear the Roosters game plan was to bash us up with their giant pack hurling themselves into every ruck. Waerea-Hargreaves in particular seeming to be far more interested in a street fight than the actual task of playing football, a mindset that would prove deadly late in the game.
We sure had a fight on our hands but we were equally up for the task, Kingy, Kite and Watmough all flexing their own considerable muscle. Attack is often the best form of defence and we shocked the Roosters when an apparently harmless right side play 20 metres out from their line saw DCE throw a stunning bullet cut out ball to Oldfield who sailed into the Arko corner. 4-0 just like that.
In the 10th minute Anasta weighted the perfect cross field kick for Perrett to climb up the back of Taufua AFL style and crash to the ground for the try. Taufua might have some work to do on his kick defence but that was simply impossible to stop.
Just when we were all relishing the return of Keiran Foran he came out of a tackle with a twisted ankle, limping heavily and succumbing to the hill sideline. Do we have any medicab donators out there? It seems archaically cruel for a player to be forced to limp 150 metres back to the dressing rooms. Still we better not open that can of worms or we'll sink into a discussion about the benefits of adding 260 seats to an old grandstand.
With Keiran gone the forward battle resumed and the visitors insisting on displaying their heaviest artillery. Arona, Tasi, Takairangi, Masoe, Tagive, Moga, Leilua all making it seem like we were up against some sort of Pacific Island wrecking squad. But we are made of equally tough stuff and it brought a smile to the Brookie faithful to see our young guns like the fast improving Harrison, Mauro, Lussick and the evergreen Guluvao matching every hit.
The battle was even but a clean Roosters break in the 32nd minute saw Mortimer put away for a very neat try. Suddenly half time was looming with a difficult 4-10 score on our hands, but just when we really needed it Foran mark II stepped up with the perfect kick and the perfect lucky bounce for Matai to steal one back. Jamie converted from out wide and suddenly it was all even again at 10 all on the stroke of half time. Anasta didn't even bother pretending to get back for the kick off, Maxwell watching bemused as he defiantly jogged off to the sheds before the siren had sounded.
No doubt another fine Toovs speech had the boys pumped to go on with the difficult task, given that despite trying to warm up Keiran was not returning leaving us with now 6 superstars on the sideline.
Just 4 minutes in and a stunning Whare sent Harrison flying through a gaping hole for a very well deserved try. The match was in our pocket again at 16-10 and the Brookie faithful were praying for a couple more tries to seal the deal. But this match was never going to be easy and the Roosters kept up the heavy onslaught.
The second half had become a war of attrition and we were guarding the fortress with unbelievable tenacity. Huge defence holding the Roosters out. Luck hasn't always been on our side but the footy gods were sure smiling when a charging Roosters and a crunching offload saw Mortimer scorch over for a try. Nobody knew why the it was up to the video ref, but a call that the Roosters offload was an illegal elbow to Harrison's head was the charge, and the verdict was guilty. A little lucky it seemed, but we'll take it.
Our forwards were all putting in herculean efforts, and a Kingy 40 metre bust was a delight to watch, just for that moment all of us daydreaming he might go all the way and score under the posts. With time ticking by and the score still very tight at 16-10 DCE was no doubt setting his mind on field goal positions. Waves of attack on their line went so narrowly unrewarded, twice big Joe being felled a coat of paint from glory. The Roosters were still throwing all their artillery at the battle, but just when they needed a cool head Warea-Hargeaves lost his and gave away a killer 72nd minute penalty right in front. Choc delighting by having the last laugh at the big angry guy. Jamie slotted the 2 points and we were all but home.
This was one very very hard fought win, and a massively gutsy effort the boys should be very proud about.
Dean Whare: Played like a cool handed veteran, safe as houses, and showed good hands with the ball too
Jorge Taufua: Solid game and gets better each week
Steve Matai: Not so much the dominating Stevie of other weeks but always so reassuring to have him out there
Jamie Lyon: Missed Glenn, but not a foot wrong.
Oldfield: Would really like to see him make ore of these opportunities, aside from one nice run seemed very quiet in 2nd half
Keiran Foran: Let's pray the ankle is ok
Daly Cherry-Evans: Still a little too much of the running in circles but pretty solid game
Vic Mauro: Tough defensive game
Anthony Watmough: Ricky Stuart you are a dead set goose and nice work proving so Anthony
Daniel Harrison: Fantastic game huge work rate really pleasing to see his growth in recent weeks
Jason King: Awesome effort in attack and defence
Matt Ballin: Finished the game with one eye closed that looked like a Rocky impersonation. The guy literally bleeds for us every week. Awesome.
Brent Kite: Stuck it to the big Roosters men too with some exc runs and solid defence
Liam Foran: Slotted in seamlessly and set up the match winning try with a deft kick.
Joe Guluvao: Is this why Toovs had been holding him back in recent week? Fantastic workhouse game and 130 big metres
Darcy Lussick: Gave away a critical penalty but he knew it and worked hard to amend. Much improved performance
George Rose: The pie shop was a handy weapon to throw at the Roosters and again it was fun to watch
A no brainer here. Winning this game with ultimately 6 superstars out against a Roosters team intent on hurting us was a monumental task and we rose to the challenge. None of us would have been upset to win by a field goal so an 8 point win was more than excellent.
Those refs. Not even sure where to start but I will let others dissect their bizarre performance. Maxwell has a chip on his shoulder the size of Pittwater.
Seeing Fozzy limp that badly, but let's hope he's ok cos it was so good to see him back for those 15 minutes.
A really great tough win. Toovs deserves a lot of credit as of course every player does with their never say die attitude. Nice that for once we have a full 7 days to recover, albeit excepting our Origin stars backing up, but that's where the Harrisons are really coming along nicely in being fantastic understudies. Looking forward to crushing the Strawberry Panthers next Sunday.