Are ruthless Roosters sure things for premiership?
It's official - the Oxford Dictionary has run out of superlatives to describe the Roosters in 2019.
They were a cut above last year as they outlasted 15 other teams to win the competition but they've somehow improved and seem to be sure things to defend their title after embarrassing the Dragons 34-12 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.
Even the late scratching of Latrell Mitchell due to calf tightness couldn't slow down their momentum as they cruised to a sixth-straight win against a hapless Red V team that was booed off by their 9087 fans at half-time when trailing 28-0.
"I thought our intensity from the 1st to the 40th minute was outstanding. I thought we attacked the game in all areas really well," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
Cooper Cronk was at his brilliant best with three try assists while James Tedesco chipped in with two and scored one of his own in a performance that felt like nothing more than a well-oiled training run.
The Dragons saved face in the second half on the back of some enterprising play but the Roosters had clocked off by then with more pressing matters on the horizon.
Is there anything Cooper Cronk can't do? The most meticulous man in the NRL has potted one-pointers for fun throughout his career, but the retiring veteran has never been a noted goal-kicker.
In fact, his last attempt at goal was in 2013 while his one and only successful conversion was back in 2008.
That all changed against the Dragons as he slotted four goals - the first a bogong-moth-piercing tracer bullet from touch - that allowed him to add goal-kicking extraordinaire to his overflowing CV.
In a trademark five-star showing, the champion halfback proved why his right boot is the most valuable commodity in the league when he found Daniel Tupou with a pinpoint kick reminiscent of his assist to Corey Oates in State of Origin that even brought a polite clap or two from Dragons supporters.
"Cooper does some really special stuff and it's all because he trains hard," Robinson said.
Tristan Sailor and Billy Smith will never forget their respective debuts, although they'll be for very different reasons. The young Dragon was thrust into the action from the kick-off when he calmly placed a foot on the dead-ball line to earn his side a penalty.
Moments later, the pair came together in a crushing collision when Smith belted Sailor in the air and was duly penalised. The 19-year-old Rooster backed up a Tedesco break to score the first try of what should be an impressive career but Sailor wasn't to be outdone as he sliced through in the second half to bring father Wendell and the rest of his cheer squad to their feet.
WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS
The season from hell continues to worsen for the Dragons and it's probably time their players fired up the Flight Centre app to check out hot deals to Bali. They were always going to struggle to match it with the premiership favourites, but a collapse that would have made English cricketers proud simply wasn't good enough on member appreciation night.
"The first 40 minutes was nowhere near to a standard that we can accept," coach Paul McGregor said.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 34 (I Liu J Manu V Radley B Smith J Tedesco D Tupou tries C Cronk 4 S Taukeiaho goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 12 (L Leilua T Sailor tries G Widdop 2 goals) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Referee: Chris Sutton, Belinda Sharpe. Crowd: 9,087