The make-up of the third week of the NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series has been confirmed, with the Sydney Roosters and North Queensland Cowboys both putting in dominant displays in Week 2 to advance to the Preliminary Finals.
The Roosters set up a Week 3 tussle with the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, while the Cowboys will now play the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park for a place in the 2015 Grand Final.
For 2014 Grand Finalists though, the Bulldogs, their 2015 season came to a shuddering halt on Friday night after being deconstructed by the Roosters 38-12 – centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall picking up a hat-trick in the six-try to three effort, while James Maloney kicked seven goals in total.
The Tricolours’ victory was a warning shot to the rest of the competition, particularly given the fact that they are still awaiting the return of regular halfback Mitchell Pearce who has been sidelined with a ham-string tear. In Pearce’s place though was the more than capable Jackson Hastings, who led the Roosters around the park with maturity beyond his years to set up the Grand Final Qualifier.
But when it came to warning shots, none came with more firepower than that of Johnathan Thurston’s North Queensland outfit, who made their intentions clear from the get-go against the Sharks in Townsville by smashing the men from the Shire 39-0 in a seven-try-romp.
From through the legs passes to blitzkrieg-like attack, the Cowboys were a side on a mission in front of a capacity crowd in Townsville as the two Premiership-less clubs fought for their seasons. For the Cowboys, the dream for 2015 is still alive, while the longest Premiership drought in the game continues for another year for Cronulla.