Dylan Napa defence helps Roosters to win v Rabbitoh rivals
THE Roosters, led by some brutal charges in attack and defence by wrecking ball Dylan Napa, have snapped a five-game losing streak, with a 17-10 win over South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
Napa took it upon himself to turn around the Roosters' worst start to a season in 50 years by coming up with some huge first-half hits in defence, none better than the way he levelled front-row opposite Sam Burgess in the 32nd minute.
While Napa's stinging tackles were a constant feature of the first stanza, the Roosters' first try was a surprise one, going against the run of play after a dominant start by the Rabbitohs.
In the 214th match between the fierce Sydney rivals, Souths had all the early momentum, forcing two line dropouts.
But in the 12th minute, Roosters hooker Jake Friend made a bust out of dummy-half and found Mitchell Aubusson in support, before a pinpoint cross-field kick from Jackson Hastings saw winger Daniel Tupou score out wide.
It was a nice recovery from young playmaker Hastings, who produced some rusty long clearing kicks early in the game.
The Roosters took a 10-0 lead in the 26th minute after a huge shot from Napa on Rabbitohs second-rower Chris Grevsmuhl, forcing the ball free.
Napa then showed some brilliance with the ball, offloading to Friend, before the No.9 found a straight-running Aidan Guerra to crash over near the posts.
The Bunnies bounced back with a try to winger Aaron Gray in the 36th minute, courtesy of a lovely pass from Luke Keary, which was tipped on beautifully by Hymel Hunt.
But the night belonged to Napa, who was in everything, including scoring a try of his own in the 47th minute, chasing through to dive on a brilliant short chip by Hastings, giving his team a 16-4 lead.
Napa didn't just come up with the odd big hit and get the better of dual England international Burgess - his work rate was tremendous, coming up with 54 tackles for the night.
The 23-year-old firebrand would now be regretting being part of the Emerging Maroons crew which broke curfew during its training camp back in February, earning himself a 12-month suspension from the Queensland team.
Otherwise he would have been strongly considered to make his Maroons debut in this year's Origin series.
The fiery young red-head only stepped up his game after back-rower and teammate Sio Siua Taukeiaho had his night cut short due to a medial ligament injury, after he landed awkwardly in a tackle, leaving the Roosters one man short.
He will go for scans tomorrow.
The Roosters' Kane Evans returned to the field after copping a head knock and going off for a concussion test, as did Souths' Kyle Turner, who has had a history of head and neck injuries, in good news for the Rabbitohs.
South Sydney centre Kirisome Auva'a also had a concussion assessment after colliding with opposite Blake Ferguson's knee, but he too was cleared.
On a disappointing night for the Rabbitohs, where their fiercest rivals turned around a 42-10 thrashing which Souths dished out to them in round one, they did receive some good news.
Regular halfback Adam Reynolds, who was watching from the sidelines, will return from a broken jaw against the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium next Friday night, if he can get through the next week of training unscathed.
Reynolds suffered the injury in Souths' big round-one win over the Roosters.
ROOSTERS 17 (D Tupou, A Guerra, D Napa tries; J Hastings 2 goals, field goal) def RABBITOHS 10 (A Gray, C Walker tries; B Goodwin goal). Crowd: 18,161 at ANZ Stadium.