Roost­ers steeled for bat­tle of the de­fences

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - SPORT -

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.”

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