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Patched-up Chooks run riot as super-sub Matt Ikuvalu bags five tries

If ever there was a night Trent Robinson’s men should have been vulnerable, this was it.

Apart from the airport dramas and loss of Morris, hooker Jake Friend left the field with concussion midway through the first half and did not return, while Boyd Cordner (concussion), Daniel Tupou (ankle), Victor Radley (knee) and Sam Verrills (knee) were already occupying the worrying casualty ward.

“That was a night for how you should prepare yourself in the shadows and then get the rewards in the spotlight when the time comes,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said in particular reference to Ikuvalu and makeshift hooker Lachie Lam.

“To score five tries, the first for a Rooster since 1955, and [Ikuvalu] is a really humble shy kid but also confident in his own ability … he deserves credit for his preparation. It’s a great story.

“[Morris] trained yesterday and felt a twinge. It wasn’t high up in the groin. He got treatment and felt really good this morning. Then he went for some top-end sprinting and felt it again.”

Ikuvalu had just 25 minutes to realise he was about to play his third game for the season.

The 26-year-old could not believe his luck when he continually crossed the chalk, his second effort the most spectacular as he leapt high and planted the ball down.

Ikuvalu revealed he had an inkling he could be a late addition after Morris pulled up tight during the captain’s run.

Ikuvalu goes over for yet another try.

Ikuvalu goes over for yet another try.Credit:NRL Photos

“Every time I warm up I know I have to be 100 per cent ready in case something happens,” Ikuvalu said. “It’s always a blessing to get a game with these boys. It’s still surreal to play with such a great team. That’s 16 games, I’m 26, I’m happy with that.”

Prolific Super League try-scorer Ryan Hall was posted on the other side of the field and left to wonder when – and if – his first four-pointer in the NRL will come. There were cruel scenes late when he thought he had actually scored, and even went to high-five James Tedesco, only for the final pass to be ruled forward.

The Cowboys were nothing short of embarrassing after the break as the boys in red, white and blue went bang, bang, bang, bang.

Cowboys great Johnathan Thurston said on the Nine commentary: “The worst thing to happen to [the Cowboys] was half-time. The second half has been diabolical and their defence atrocious.”

Canterbury’s Dean Pay is under pressure but could only dream of some of the players North Queensland counterpart Paul Green has at his disposal.

And Green can expect plenty of heat in the coming weeks as his team travel to Penrith and then host Manly.

It was the second straight week they conceded 40 points.

“There are plenty of reasons to make changes to the team, but whether or not that will happen I’m not sure,” Green said afterwards.

“We need to build confidence. At the moment our confidence is very brittle, and when something goes against us, as a team we need to be tougher mentally to cope with it and get back into the game.

“One try is quickly becoming two and ten three. The start of that second half made it very difficult.”

The Roosters somehow led at half-time after the hugely impressive Sio Siua Taukeiaho burst through a gap and put Sitili Tupouniua over for a rare four-pointer.


Taukeiaho played the first 65 minutes and again proved why he is one of the best front-rowers in the game.

If David Fifita is worth $1.25 million in the eyes of the Gold Coast, Taukeiaho would be worth just shy of seven figures given his enormous engine and ball-playing skills.

The Roosters finally return to the Sydney Cricket Ground next Thursday night for the grand-final replay against Canberra. They are chasing a seventh win in eight games since the competition rebooted after COVID-19.

Had the NRL listened to Chooks’ boss Nick Politis and scrapped the competition points earned in the first two rounds before the game was shut down, the Bondi boys would be on top.

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