Carney's Sydney Roosters crush Atherton
HE did not make as much of a bang as the Chinese New Year fireworks that went off in the background early in the game but Todd Carney made a solid return to elite football last night when he turned out with the Sydney Roosters.
Sydney was too big, too fast, too strong in its 68-18 win against Atherton but the local Roosters disappointed no one in the crowd of 3000 at NQ Hardware Stadium with their dogged showing.
Carney finished with six points from three first-half goals but it was his return to the NRL ranks that pleased him most.
“For Braith and Lopeni Paea to come up and say welcome to the Roosters and the coaching staff to say great start for the first game was important and a buzz for me.
“For Braith to come up, the captain of the club, was pretty special.
“He just came up to me before the start of the game and said ‘welcome to the club, rip in and good luck’.
Carney said his 18 months in NRL exile had been a “long drag’’.
“There was times when I didn’t think I’d be back and there was times when I didn’t know if I’d play rugby league.
“But here I am now and I’m back and looking forward to the future.’’
Atherton captain-coach Josh Blatch said what was evident to most at the ground.
“They’re just a big, fast, fit side,’’ Blatch said.
“We ran around and we matched it with them in little spots but they were just too big and too fit.’’
Sydney scored in the second minute through Keith Peters who barged his way over close to the line despite some strong Atherton defence earlier in the set.
An Atherton error led to the second try, young fullback Wally Guivarra fumbling a ball on the ground, with Sydney coming through in numbers and winger Jack Littlejohn scoring in the corner.
The try opened the floodgates for the visitors who scored three times in the next 20 minutes before Atherton found its rhythm.
Atherton had few attacking opportunities in the first half but got on the scoreboard just minutes from halftime the set after forcing a goal-line dropout.
Interchange forward Jake Finlen dived on halfback Jermaine Pedro’s in-goal chip, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Pedro showed glimpses of his immense skill throughout the match, chipping and regathering, making breaks, finding runners and showing great vision with his kicking game.
Sydney took a 26-6 lead to halftime but Atherton could not maintain the composure and discipline that had helped it back into the match.
Sydney scored 30 unanswered points in the third quarter, and pushed out to a 68-6 lead before the home side thrilled the crowd with a pair of late tries.
“They shocked a few people, they shocked our boys early on,’’ Carney said of his old side.
“They were sitting on the bench early on saying how much better they’d gone than they thought they were going to.’’
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Back in the swing of it: Todd Carney passes to a Sydney Roosters teammate last night against Atherton Roosters.
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