Roosters steeled for battle of the defences
RUGBY LEAGUE: If defence wins premierships, the Sydney Roosters face an acid test in their showdown with Penrith tonight.
The heavyweight match-up pits the NRL’s two best defensive teams against each other and shapes as a gauge of just how far the sixth-placed Roosters have come following a slow start to the year.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson prides his sides on their defence, declaring their reputation is defined by it.
Robinson uses explosive young forward Victor Radley as an example of how defensive aggression is highly regarded at the club.
After just 16 first-grade appearances, the 20-year-old Clovelly Crocodiles junior is already somewhat of a cult figure.
A fortnight ago Roosters fans were chanting Radley’s name as he came off the ground following their win over the Wests Tigers, after he cut several players in half with some textbook tackling.
“It’s something that he does, but it’s a Roosters style as well,” Robinson said.
“That’s what we do – you can win without the ball.”
After 14 rounds, the Roosters (conceding an average of 15.1 points per game) and the Panthers (14.6 points) have been the league’s best defensive sides.
Anthony Griffin’s Panthers have been staunch in defending their line, conceding the fewest metres in the comp (an average of 1243 per game).
On the back of it, they have 10 wins from 13 games – an equal club record – lifting them to second on the ladder.
Robinson wants his side to be known for their defence in much the same way.
“Our house is built on that, we’ve been very strong this year,” he said.
“We’ve prepared well, we’re looking forward to that clash. And then we’re looking forward to it opening up a bit and showing what we can do with the ball.”