Eels NRLW star Tiana Penitani says the kicking game of the Roosters halves will “play a big part” in the Tricolours pulling off an upset in Sunday’s grand final against the Dragons.
Coming in as the underdogs against a Dragons outfit who doubled their wins during the five-game home and away season, the Roosters will need a perfect performance from their halves paring Zahara Temara and Raecene McGregor, Penitani believes.
During the Roosters’ upset win against reigning premiers Brisbane last week, Temara in particular stood out with her kicking game, in which she notched 256 kick metres and forced two dropouts, per NRL.com stats.
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Penitani, whose Eels lost in a nail-biter to the Roosters in round four, knows just how crucial that kicking game will be when the grand final gets underway.
“I particularly like the halves pairing from the Roosters,” she told Wide World of Sports’ NRLWrap Grand Final Preview.
“Zahara Temara and Raecene McGregor – I think they both have a fantastic kicking game.
“That’s going to play a big part in their win over the Dragons if they secure that.
“Even playing against them, the kicking game from both of those halves rocked us a bit at the Eels and that’s why we stayed so close in the game.
“We had a couple of disallowed tries … but we were just unable to fight back when the chips were down in those crucial moments.
“They build pressure really well in that sense.”
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Despite knocking off Brisbane in last week’s semi-final, the Roosters have endured an up and down campaign this year.
They started off the season with consecutive losses before bouncing back with two-straight wins.
Their most recent loss was in round five, a 16-10 loss to the Dragons.
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“They’ve built momentum so well this season and every season they do that, they start to peak in the later rounds where it’s too late,” Penitani added.
“This is their opportunity to really take the confidence from the last couple of weeks.
“They had no right to technically be here in this grand final, and I think they haven’t played their best game yet. Everyone needs to do their role.
“Everyone needs to do their role. It’s going to be a big defensive effort from them that’s going to shut the Dragons out.
“The Dragons get a little bit shaky when there’s a lot of line speed, so the Roosters need to focus on that, and the game management from the halves pairing like I mentioned – the kicking game, the fifth tackle kick and building pressure, that’s what will keep them in the game.”
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