Thunderbolts v Roosters Match Review
By Matt Hughes (NRL Vic Media)
On Friday afternoon at Gosch’s Paddock, the Victoria Thunderbolts hosted the Sydney Roosters in round six of the NSWRL Jersey Flegg competition. In what became one of their best games of the season, the Victorians were narrowly beaten 18 to 10.
With regular captain Matt Stimson on the sidelines injured, number eight Nic Flocas took the reigns for the first time. This was a significant moment for the young forward, as he had played all of his underage rugby league in Victoria. The game was also the first for Dean Ieremia, Leo Simona and John Salatielu.
The Thunderbolts got off to a flyer, taking the lead in the fourth minute through a well-worked Trent Toelau try. The number seven dummied, before a nice step took him across the paint. He was then able to convert giving his side a six-point buffer.
The locals’ lead however, didn’t last as long as they would have liked, with the Roosters crossing in the 9th minute. Some slick passing led to the Roosters’ Geordie Brand barging through the Thunderbolts’ defence, before Ethan O’Neill was able to convert.
The rest of the first half highlighted the Thunderbolt’s improvement in defence. A string of penalties in favour of the Roosters led to numerous opportunities for them to take the lead, however the Thunderbolts held strong, ensuring honours were shared going into the break. Of note was a huge hit from Kayleb Milne which seemed to lift the Victorians when they most needed it.
The second half started like the first finished, with the Roosters looking to steal the lead. In the 39th minute Sydney’s Tyrell Neiufi broke the deadlock with their second four-pointer, before another successful conversion.
At the 49-minute mark Thunderbolts were in desperate need of a try, when some slick passing and quick play of the balls, led to Kayleb Milne crossing in the corner. Unfortunately, Toelau couldn’t convert meaning the boys trailed by two.
In the 55th minute Roosters’ Freddy Lussick snuck his way through for a try. O’Neill again added the two, leaving the Thunderbolts with it all to do in the last 13 minutes.
The Thunderbolts continued to test the Roosters’ defence as they pushed for the win, however it was their own tackling that was most impressive. The Roosters squandered numerous opportunities to score due to the pressure of the Thunderbolts’ “cage-style” defence.
The score read 18 to 10 when the siren sounded. Although beaten, the Thunderbolts held their heads high knowing they’d performed against a quality side.
Watching from the sideline, injured skipper Matt Stimson was extremely impressed by his side’s performance.
“That was one of our best games even though the score didn’t reflect the way we performed,” he said.
“I’m real proud of every individual out there.”
“We didn’t get the result, but I’m sure next week will be a lot better.”
According to Stimson it was a change of attitude which led to the Thunderbolts improved defensive performance.
“We’ve had ongoing issues with our defence, whereas today our attitude was a lot better than the last three weeks.”
Stimson was equally as impressed by Nic Flocas’ captaincy in his absence.
“The Floc dog killed it,” he said.
“He led the boys well and leads by his actions more than his words.”
“He left everything out there today.”
The Thunderbolts next game is this Sunday against the Warriors at Haines Drive Reserve.