The Sydney Roosters have opened their NRLW title defence with a decisive 38-16 victory over the Parramatta Eels. New Roosters captain Isabelle Kelly stepped into her leadership role, leading by example, scoring two tries, and breaking nine tackles.
After a season featuring many big moves between teams, the Parramatta Eels played host to the defending champions in the 2022 season open.
The first breakthrough of the game came after seven minutes, where a Sam Bremner line break got the Roosters within a threatening distance. From here, Jayme Fressard broke through and opened the scoring for the 2022 season.
From here, the Roosters quickly followed up with an Isabelle Kelly try to put them up 8-0.
Already on the back foot, the Eels gave up another strong scoring chance after turning over the ball with a slow peel penalty. Once again, the Rooster's captain capitalised.
The Rooster's struggles with conversions kept it closer than they wanted. Christian Pio powered her way right in front of the try line, and Seli Mailangi did the rest of the work from dummy half. The conversion was made, and it was suddenly a one-score game.
A series of Roosters errors, a risky kick from the Eels, and captain Simaima Taufa tied up the scores.
A spinning Jess Sergis made the final big play of the first half, breaking the line and giving the Roosters the halftime lead.
Vanessa Foliaki was next on the scoreboard, with another line break for an Eels try. A missed conversion, however, kept them trailing.
Two more quick tries from Olivia Kernick and Shaniah Power, and the Roosters began to take a more convincing 14-point lead.
The Parramatta defence struggled as the Roosters turned another two line breaks into tries for a final score of 38-16.
With this dominant performance, the Roosters showed precisely why they are one of the leading contenders for the 2022 premiership.
Roosters coach John Strange was really pleased with his side's performances in their season opener.
"Everyone wants to get off to a winning start.
"It was just about us getting back to what we know and sticking to our shapes and plays – which the girls did brilliantly in the second half."
Isabelle Kelly also commented that she was particularly impressed with the team's performance through their middle.
"They're just running so hard out there, we had a gameplan to go through the middle, and that's what we did.
"We're never able to do it without them."
With premiership-winning captain Corban Baxter missing this season due to pregnancy, Kelly has stepped into the captaincy role, a role which she enjoyed in her first game.
"I've actually loved it – I'm naturally someone who wants to lead from the front, and lead by example, so I had no extra pressure."
Eels coach Dean Widders was very disappointed in his team's defensive performances.
"We just didn't defend strong enough.
"We have to turn up with that physicality at the front of our mind next week."
Despite his general disappointment in the defensive efforts, he did note that Kennedy Cherrington's performance off the interchange bench was pleasing.
"[Kennedy Cherrington] was the only one to come in with that energy, who wanted to be there, upset the opposition and get at them.
"The rest of us can learn a bit from that – she just wanted to get in there and compete.
"If you're not turning up and you're ready to put your body on the line, you're not going to be able to compete at this level.
"We'll learn a lot about game management and how to stay in the game from the video we watch this week."
This learning curve from the Eels will be made tougher by the fact that they will be facing the Dragons, coming off a grand final appearance, next week.
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