NSW’s disrupted State of Origin preparations received a boost on Friday night, as the Sydney Roosters’ Blues contingent orchestrated a 30-6 thumping of the understrength Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium.
Blues incumbent Michael Jennings and wing hopeful Daniel Tupou bagged doubles, while playmaker James Maloney – back from injury – strengthened his claims to retain the hotly contested five-eighth position with three try assists.
Sonny Bill Williams also responded to recent criticism of his form, with an action-packed performance which ensured the defending premiers moved into the top four.
To have Maloney and Jennings find their rhythm, just 19 days out from the Origin opener is particularly significant for NSW coach Laurie Daley.
Both were originally in doubt for this week after injuring themselves on Anzac Day, with another integral member of Daley’s side, Robbie Farah, still on the sidelines.
Friday night’s sorry performance from the Tigers was further proof they’ll struggle to maintain their presence in the top eight if that man Farah isn’t directing the show at hooker.
The Tigers have been ravaged by injury and suspension and, with a sky-high error count, they were no chance of matching the premiers.
Farah (dislocated elbow) should return next week.
Tupou is gaining support to win a wing spot, and the 22-year-old Rooster only shortened his chances for a debut with another dominant performance.
The 195cm giant used all his size to power past two would-be Tigers defenders and set up the Roosters’ opening try after 10 minutes.
The up-field surge was started by Williams, who offloaded to set hooker Jake Friend downfield before quick hands from Cordner put Tupou in the clear.
Williams has been statistically down across the board in his bread and butter areas of tackle busts, linebreaks, linebreak assists, try assists and offloads.
But even though there were still a few errors in his game, the dual international made a conscious effort to up his involvement – in a scary sign for opposition teams.
Five minutes before halftime, Williams wound the clock back to last year’s grand final triumph, popping a brilliant ball to Maloney who streaked downfield before giving on to Jennings to touch down for his first and a 14-0 halftime lead.