Trial Takeaways: Roosters v Rabbitohs reserve grade ‘NRL fixture’ highlights pre-season competition farce


The farcical nature of the Pre-Season Challenge was on display at Belmore Sports Ground on Friday when the Roosters and Rabbitohs clashed while fielding NSW Cup standard line-ups.

Because the two clubs are involved in next weekend’s Las Vegas opening round double-header, they were missing their top players and virtually unrecognisable teams duked it out.

A similar scenario will unfold at Brookvale on Saturday evening when Manly and Brisbane trot out reserve-grade squads.

The NRL is trying beyond all logic to fashion some sort of pre-season tournament as a way to drive up the broadcast rights when the next deal is up for negotiation but it’s impossible to come up with a format for 17 teams over two rounds that is workable or interesting.

Bless those Fox Sports commentators for following orders from above by spruiking the permutations of what each result means in the grand scheme of the Pre-Season Challenge standings which are determined not just by wins but the amount of tries scored and an array of stats which are then divided by the number of spanners in a Sidchrome toolkit.

With the four Vegas teams running dead in Round 2 and the Panthers in Wigan as they try to add the World Club Challenge to their bulging trophy cabinet, there are a dozen sides in contention for the $100,000 carrot which has been dangled in front of the clubs to treat this competition seriously.

From the evidence of last year and this pre-season, coaches have not changed their pre-season routines one bit with even the teams unaffected by the vagaries of Vegas giving their stars just one hit-out before rotating through their fringe first-graders and young prospects coming through the ranks.

Rabbitohs 10, Roosters 46

Young Chooks ready for step up

For the match itself, veteran prop Dylan Napa was the only Rooster with NRL experience but it was the uncapped players in their pack who caught the eye.

Powerful lock Salesi Foketi is one to watch – he scored a try, made 224 running metres and topped the tackle count for his side with 34.

Alex Young runs the ball for the Roosters against South Sydney at Belmore. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Dominic Young’s younger brother Alex turned out on the wing but was relatively quiet as his fellow outside backs cashed in on the Roosters’ dominant performance.

Fullback Callum Gromek crossed for two tries as the Roosters raced to a 20-6 lead at half-time before registering a comprehensive 46-10 triumph.

In the grand scheme of things, this result will not matter for either club but for Roosters fans, they can be assured that the club has yet another crop of young prospects ready to step up to the top grade with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Joseph Manu, Joseph Suaalii and potentially Angus Crichton leaving Bondi Junction at season’s end.

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