Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith says his side won’t cower in the face of the famed St George Illawarra wall in Sunday’s NRL grand final as he vowed to hit the Dragons with every trick in the Roosters book.
Ahead of his side’s third tilt at trying to beat the Dragons this season, Smith said it was vital the Roosters stuck with the attack-based game-plan which had got them this far.
“I get the sense that throughout the year watching other teams play against them that some of them were just trying to limit the damage or they were testing the water,” said Smith, whose Roosters lost to the Dragons 28-6 in round seven and 19-12 in round 22.
“We didn’t do that.
“The first time around we maybe had a little bit of that about us, but the second time around we had a proper go and both times we came up short.
“We’re getting a third shot at it on the biggest day of all – to have a crack at them, to take it to them … be bold.
“You’ve got to throw something back.
“If the score’s 10-8 this weekend I bet I know who everyone thinks is going to win, because I probably do too.
“We’ve got to be better than that, we’ve got to put stuff back on them to win the game – but that’s okay, that’s our bag, that’s what we’re good at.”
With in-form halves Mitchell Pearce and Dally M medal winner Todd Carney, the Roosters have the players to test a Dragons defence that for two years has been the most miserly in the competition.
The Dragons conceded less than 13 points a game over the course of the regular season – an effort which has gone up a notch during the finals where Manly and Wests Tigers have scored a combined 12 points against the red and whites.
Over the five-match winning streak they take into Sunday’s decider, the Roosters have averaged just a tick over 26 points per game.
But while those sorts of numbers reflect their attacking record over the season as a whole, it is at the defensive end that Smith believes the Roosters have made great strides in recent weeks.
Over the same five-match stretch the Roosters have conceded just 55 points at an average of 11 per game, with Smith lauding the effort in holding Gold Coast to just one try in the preliminary final as the side’s best of the season.
“The focal point of our season really has been our attacking stuff, but then on the big occasion where we needed it to be right, we had our best defensive game for the season,” Smith said.
“Some of our losses – we had 60 points put past us at one stage of the year – no-one ever scored more than 28 points against the Dragons all year.
“We haven’t earned that (defensive reputation) until recently – that’s still going to be the question mark for us this weekend isn’t it?
“First and foremost we’re going to have to defend well this weekend and then we’ve got to attack on top of that.”