Bulldogs v Roosters: Five Key Points
The Bulldogs were brave in the second half but it wasn't enough as the Roosters took advantage of a scintillating start to the game to hang on for a 24-18 win at ANZ Stadium.
Roosters survive second-half jitters
It's been the season of second-half comebacks and the Roosters nearly became the second team to blow a 14-point half-time lead on Sunday before they recovered to hold on for a gritty six-point win.
The Tricolours looked in control with a 20-6 lead at the break but watched on helplessly as the Bulldogs heaped on two quick tries to pull within a goal midway through the second half.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said his players weren't ruthless enough in the third quarter of the game but was proud of the way they responded with the match in the balance.
"I thought we had 30 good minutes there in the first half and were up 20-6, but we needed to apply ourselves a bit in the second half, and it didn't really happen," he said.
"We didn't get it going at all in the second half and then all of a sudden the score was 20-18 and then I thought we did really well. I thought we managed the game really well from 20-18 but we just weren't ruthless enough…to get that lead a bit further."
Lethal left edge can't be stopped
It's been their go-to side all year and the Roosters' left edge showed again on Sunday that they are just about the most dangerous attacking unit in the NRL.
A rejuvenated Daniel Tupou continued his stellar start to the year with a try and 178 metres, Latrell Mitchell scored and set up a try, Luke Keary was a constant threat and Boyd Cordner was busy as ever in the back row.
The awesome foursome played a part in all three first-half tries in a 20-minute period that saw them terrorise the Bulldogs' right edge every time they touched the ball.
"I thought the left edge did some really good stuff," Robinson said.
"They had some good combinations from Boyd to Luke to Latrell, from Luke to Latrell to 'Toops' (Tupou). There was a really good period there where the middles earned the right for them and then these boys took over."
No injury concerns for Latrell
There were worrying signs when Latrell Mitchell was helped from the field just moments after the Bulldogs scored their third try of the afternoon.
Robinson revealed his star centre had copped a couple of knocks to his sternum but would be fine to resume his place for the game in Canberra.
"He got a knock in the first half and then got a knock again in the second half," Robinson said.
"It's a spot that you can't really look after through medical stuff at half-time so he had to go out there. It's not serious; it's just one of those places that gets really sore, really sensitive."
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was left unimpressed by a moment of confusion that saw his side denied a repeat set late in the game when they were deep on the attack.
A grubber by winger Brett Morris collected the leg of a Roosters defender, with one of the officials initially ruling six again before he conferred with his colleagues and overturned the decision, ruling the ball had not been played at.
"It wasn't the reason why we didn't win the match, but it was crucial. It was good field position for us and I thought we had good momentum," Hasler said.
An injury to Tom Trbojevic has opened the door for someone to fill the now vacant Blues left wing spot, and Hasler believes selectors should look no further than Brett Morris.
A veteran of 12 State of Origin appearances, Morris is as steady as they come and would do a stellar job if chosen for the series opener on May 31.
"He's got all the experience in the world. He's a world-class winger and he's outstanding in that position. He knows that arena very well so I don't think anyone here would doubt that he wouldn't look out of place in a Blues jersey," Hasler said.
The Bulldogs coach added Josh Jackson also warranted selection based on his 2017 form.
"I thought Josh was outstanding, but he's been outstanding all year."