The Sydney Roosters have put the competition on notice by moving back into the Top 8 with a dominant display to thrash the Newcastle Knights by 42-12 at McDonald Jones Stadium tonight.
Skipper James Tedesco was outstanding for the visitors scoring two tries and producing some breathtaking touches for several others in a blistering performance from the NSW Blues skipper.
Despite the Roosters missing last week's superstar Joey Manu, the rest of the backline were sparkling following premiership winning half Luke Keary's return, with both Joseph Suaalii and Daniel Tupou both crossing for two tries each.
The Knights loss was further compounded by the loss of marquee fullback Kalyn Ponga who was sensationally ruled out of the match with concussion after just ten minutes, following a seemingly innocuous late hit by Roosters prop Matt Lodge.
Newcastle immediately lost confidence after Ponga's departure and simply lost their way, with the relentless Roosters continually attacking the Knights on the edges to score at will. The loss will see pressure intensify on coach Adam O'Brien for another week as he searches for answers with their season now on life support.
It was a fiery start with both forward packs testing each other out in the early exchanges. This resulted in a late shot from Roosters backrower Angus Crichton on Anthony Milford whose acting should have been nominated for a Logie at best. The ensuing penalty resulted in the Knights getting on the board first, taking the two points on offer through Kalyn Ponga to lead 2-0.
Ponga was then collected high moments later by Roosters debutant Matt Lodge and sent for a Head Injury Assessment. Ponga then failed his assessment, and was ruled out of the match.
On the back of this news, Connor Watson then broke the line against his former club and found the returning Luke Keary in support, who scored the first try of the night to take a 6-2 lead for the visitors.
The Roosters then picked up their second try following an attempted Edrick Lee intercept. The Roosters backline however recovered the rushing attempt for Tedesco to combine with Suaalii who scored in the corner to make it 10-2.
The Tricolours then picked up a crucial try before halftime when Sam Walker kicked high for Suaalii on the last. The young superstar then caught the ball and delivered a classy offload for his skipper Tedesco to score and take a 16-2 lead into the break.
The Roosters got the jump early in the second half, when Keary then went to the left-hand side of the field to kick high for the original wing target in Daniel Tupou. The NSW winger then leapt high to collect the ball in the air and scored under the posts to make it 22-6 following Sam Walker's conversion.
Joseph Suaalii then went over for his second try in the corner, following some quick hands from Tedesco and Paul Momirovski to take the game away from the home side. The frustration then boiled over with Knights centre Dane Gagai sent to the sin bin for dissent.
The flood gates then opened as the Roosters had a field day, with three quick tries to Tupou for his second. This was followed by Angus Crichton and Egan Butcher then getting in on the action to threaten to run up a cricket score.
Newcastle then rallied late to score two late consolation tries to Dolphins bound winger Edrick Lee. It was all to no avail however with the Roosters running out 42-12 winners in a dominant display.
The Roosters now face Manly at Brookvale next Thursday night in a must win for both sides Top 8 chances. Knights coach Adam O'Brien will face scrutiny for another week in the Hunter before his side can look to bounce back on home turf against a resurgent Canterbury Bulldogs next Sunday.