From fifth to the final!
ROOSTERS COACH ANTHONY BARNES says he’s not surprised by his side’s stirring run to claim a berth in this Sunday’s grand final.
“We only just got nutted by a couple of the top-four teams, because we played all the top four teams coming into the end of the season, so the boys have been playing good football,” he tells RLW after the Tricolours’ 26-20 defeat of St George Illawarra.
“A few [results] didn’t go our way — a one-point loss to the Dragons and then we got beat by Cronulla and that knocked us out of the four, but I always believed we were a top-four side.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing last Friday night, when the Roosters won their third straight sudden-death final. Barnes admits there was some concern in the sheds when his charges trailed 14-0 at half-time.
“We had a few early opportunities and didn’t take those, so that made it a bit hard and we didn’t have much ball in the first 20, either . . . so you probably get a bit nervous, but the boys fought back well in the second half.”
Chooks hooker Grant Garvey was pleased with the way his side managed to shut down the Red V’s danger men, headed by Luciano Leilua ( below).
“Luciano was a focus, we just tried to get him tackling to get him puffed out a bit, and also Matt Dufty, we know he and Dufty have a good combination — so I thought we covered them well,” he says.
Garvey has no doubt the Roosters have the talent to win the club’s first NYC premiership, even against raging favourites Penrith.
“One hundred per cent we can win it. We have confidence against any team we play,” Garvey says.
“We played the Panthers twice this year . . . and they dusted us up [50-4 in round seven]. But we’re a completely different side now — we’re a lot more mature in the way we play footy.”