Ladder position: 2nd (3rd after finals)
Points for: 500 (540 after finals)
Points against: 428 (479 after finals)
Top try scorer: Latrell Mitchell
Home record: 10-2 (11-3 after finals)
Away record: 7-5
Finals record: 1-1
Highlight of the season
After a season which saw them emphatically return to the finals after a very forgettable and scandal-plagued 2016, the Tricolours were able to win the tight matches which they would have undoubtedly lost last year. One such victory included the 13-12 Anzac Day victory over traditional rivals, the Dragons. This victory exemplified the Roosters’ ability to grind out victories, forcing their opponents into submission in the process.
Another of these tight and impressive victories by the chooks was the round 13 match with the Broncos at Allianz, in which they prevailed 18-16. This match was as impressive as it was a classic, considering both the Roosters and Broncos had their key playmakers out, as it saw a grandstand finish in which the Tricolours were able to stave off a comeback by the Broncos.
One match in which the Tricolours were able to display their dominance was the round 10 demolition of the Eels 48-10 at Allianz. With this emphatic victory, the Roosters had ensured they were always in or around the top four for the majority of the season.
Lowlight of te season
Although this was an impressive season by the men from Bondi, it was not without some disappointing performances. During the regular season, there were two particularly very disappointing displays, which resulted in thrashings by the Broncos and Sharks. The Broncos embarrassed the Roosters 32-8 in Brisbane, in which boom centre Latrell Mitchell was given a dose of reality by his opposite number James Roberts. As for the 44-12 demolition by the Sharks, they showed the men from Bondi the reason why they were the Premiers in 2016 while former Rooster James Maloney had a field day.
However, the match which Roosters fans will view as the lowlight is their preliminary loss to the Cowboys. They entered the match as red hot favourites, especially with the Cowboys missing their co-captains and having played the week prior to this match. The Roosters had won both their finals matches against the Cowboys, albeit by very small margins. Yet, thanks largely to Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo, the Cowboys continued to defy the odds and their poor overall record in Sydney with a 29-16 victory, sending the chooks packing at the preliminary final stage for the third time in four years.
What went right
As previously mentioned, the Roosters had an innate ability to grind out the close victories over their opponents. During matches in which they would hit a purple patch, the Tricolours were an incredibly difficult side to contain. This was best exemplified in the qualifying final against the Broncos, in which they skipped out to good leads at various stages in that match.
Tricolours boasted the third best defensive record in the competition, behind only the Storm and the Sharks. This is something which can undoubtedly be attributed to their ability to win the close matches, a trait which eluded them in 2016.
In addition, the chooks made the third most line breaks, behind the Storm and the Dragons, illustrating why they have been a hard team to stop.
Despite the end to their season, it has definitely been a remarkable turnaround for the Tricolours to come second in the ladder just a year after finishing 15th.
What went wrong
The Roosters were also unable to perform consistently for the complete 80 minutes. There were two such games which, although they resulted in a victory for the Roosters, exemplified their season in that the men from Bondi were undoubtedly hot and cold. The first match is the first round clash against the Titans, where the Roosters had raced out to a 28-0 lead by half time, only for the full time score to be 32-18.
And then in the qualifying final it took a late Latrell Mitchell try to earn an unnecessarily hard-fought victory. They led 14-0 and then 18-6 at various stages but couldn’t maintain their dominance throughout against the Broncos, who admitted that they were poor. The Mitchell try claimed a 24-22 victory when a heartbreaking defeat looked on the cards.
Another area of concern for the Tricolours is their error count, as they were ranked the worst for ball security, having made a whopping 303 errors in 2017. Ultimately, it would be both their poor ball security and inability to perform for the full match which would be their downfall, as they were their own worst enemy against the Cowboys. They committed 13 errors, completed at 68%, conceded five penalties and saw two kick-offs go out on the full.
In what was an impressive season for the Bondi club, there was little doubt that NSW State of Origin skipper Boyd Cordner was the best player for the Roosters. With five tries and numerous carries which lesser players would shirk responsibility from, Cordner was consistently leading by example in almost every match for club and state. His 2017 displays show exactly why Cordner was chosen to succeed Paul Gallen as captain of NSW.
The arrival of Luke Keary from fierce rivals, the Rabbitohs, proved to be a more than effective foil for half-back Mitchell Pearce. Keary had led the club with 16 try assists, while proving to be a constant threat on both sides with his blinding speed and masterful footwork.
Although they may have only played two and three games respectively this year, Joseph Manu and Victor Radley made their Roosters and NRL debuts in 2017.
Recruitment for 2018
2018 Gains: James Tedesco (Wests Tigers)
2018 Losses: Paul Carter (released), Kane Evans (Parramatta Eels), Aidan Guerra (Newcastle Knights), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Newcastle Knights), Liam Knight (Canberra Raiders), Connor Watson (Newcastle Knights).
Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco is the only incoming so far ahead of 2018. However, the signing of Tedesco will undoubtedly bolster their attack, as this is one area which they are looking at improving.
The Roosters are offloading a multitude of players, with the Newcastle Knights proving to be the main beneficiaries, securing the signatures of three of these players, including the mid-season signing of talented and controversial centre, Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
Priority number one for the Roosters will be consistency across a full 80 minutes. They will also want to improve their ball security in order to keep hold of possession and build pressure. The aforementioned will be something for coach Trent Robinson to consider in strengthening their credentials for next season.
However, even after their preliminary final defeat, 2017 can definitely be seen as a successful one for the Bondi club, when you consider the fact that they flew into second place this year, having languished near the bottom for substantial periods of 2016. This season can be used as a springboard to the ultimate goal, in the shape of a Premiership victory.
The arrival of speedster Tedesco will undoubtedly bolster an already formidable back line which features the likes of Michael Gordon, Daniel Tupou, Mitchell and Blake Ferguson.
If the men from Bondi can maintain the good aspects of 2017 while building consistency and avoiding errors then they may well be in Grand Final contention next year.
What were your highlights and lowlights from the Roosters’ 2017 NRL season? Let us know in the comments below.
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