The Roosters were shy of going back to the Grand Final after losing to a one win Parramatta Eels squad. (Graphic Design: Will Cucko)

The Roosters after winning a premiership would go undefeated in the five regular season games in the 2022 season but fell short in the semi-final against the Parramatta Eels to have a chance at repeating their success.

In every game this season, they seemed unstoppable and even when games didn’t start their way, they would always find a way to respond and score points and win the game. 

Finishing position 1st (five wins, zero losses)

What worked?

Their side-to-side offence was hard to defend, especially when defending on the try line. 

Giving the Roosters field position again and again, would just make the day worse for the teams they were going up against, as the Roosters’ backline would punish opposition defences for their mistakes and errors. 

Jessica Sergis and Isabelle Kelly would shine this season, showing why they are the best centres and pairing in the game with their ability to be creative with the ball and create something out of nothing. 

Sam Bremner returning from pregnancy looked better than ever with the ball in her hands, being able to also operate without the ball and be direct at the line. 

The halves pairings of Zahara Temara and Raecene McGregor was a lethal combination this season, with Tamara converting tries and shifting the ball movement in any way she wanted while McGregor was able to control the game with her kicks that made their offence a nightmare to counter.

The implementation of the forwards, particularly their back rowers Olivia Kernick and Shaniah Power, with their size and ball-playing ability, took the Roosters’ offence to new heights this season compared to their premiership-winning season.

What didn’t work?

The opponents felt more comfortable creating offence and sparking great opportunities in testing the Roosters’ defence when the game is set for set.

When the Eels rematched the Roosters in the semi-final, the first try of the game was created as a result of the Eels having majority possession.

The Roosters’ half-field sets, when teams are giving it their all, had easy counters defensively, especially when they are not timing the decoy runners and out-the-back options as well as they did for the regular season. 

A build-up of errors and poor discipline saw teams build field position and pressure on the Roosters to respond, and in some instances, the Roosters struggled to pick up the intensity opponents were giving them.

Kick pressure on their opponents’ main playmakers also didn’t exist, relying on their back three to build yardage week to week. 

When their opponents have multiple chasers running at once to get the ball, their defensive line transforming into an offensive blocking wall, the kicker that would also chase for the ball would find success in getting repeat sets and get the Roosters to concede points.

More Rugby League News:

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2022 NRLW Season Review: Gold Coast Titans

Who impressed?

Olivia Kernick in her second season continued to shine in the back-rower position, replacing now Eels back-rower Vanessa Foliaki.

Averaging 27 tackles and 70 running metres per game, Kernick also improved her ability to ball-play and operate without the ball when the offence is pushing the pace.

Being one of the Dally M back-rowers of the year for this season, Kernick also improved her tackle efficiency, successfully making tackles 90.6 per cent of the time this season. 

Season highlight 

The NRLW Roosters played the first game at the new Allianz Stadium in a grand final rematch against the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

The Roosters would dominate the Dragons 34-6 with ease, setting the tone for what many fans expected to be a back-to-back season for the Roosters. 

With multiple mistakes made in the second half by the Dragons, the Roosters capitalised and produced points, with Jocelyn Kelleher finding her way to the line through quick steps and dummies that found the Dragons back-pedalling.

Highest point 

The Roosters solidified their place at the number one spot on the ladder with a win against the Gold Coast Titans to finish the regular season. 

While they rested Sam Bremner, they debuted fullback sensation Jada Taylor, who put a clinic on with scoring a try on debut and her running ability as seen in the under 19’s State of Origin game.

A scoring clinic for the Roosters would put the game away with ease, putting 38 points on the Titans, and pushing the Titans to be the wooden spooners. 

The Roosters would score from a range of locations on the field, and spark offence from anybody on the field.

Lowest point

The Eels would defeat the Roosters to advance to the grand final in unexpected fashion.

Winning the effort areas, the Eels would play incredible defence on what seemed like an unstoppable offence.

The halves pairing struggled to put kick pressure on the Eels back three and their try-line defence suffered through an aggressive Eels attack that saw multiple tries scored on them very quickly.

The fast-paced, direct offence the Roosters implemented from the beginning of the season slowed down and couldn’t spark opportunities against an Eels team who had momentum on their side from the kickoff.

The Eels scoring their last two tries back to back sealed the biggest upset of the season before the Roosters would score their last try of the season in garbage time.

#1 off-season priority 

The Roosters need a spark from the bench, whether that is a third playmaking option that takes pressure away from Tamara and McGregor or compliments Destiny Brill, when they do not push the tempo to start the game, they need someone who can sub in halfway through the first half and create the tempo and spark that they need. 

If the offence can shift through the middle forwards with calculated offloads and put Sam Bremner in a support play action piece, the Roosters can solve their issue of not setting the pace of the game when their opponents find momentum at the start of the game.

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