Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins have produced a stunning NRL debut, defeating competition heavyweight Roosters 28-18 at Suncorp Stadium.
With former Bulldogs, hooker Jeremy Marshall-King linking up with halves Sean O’Sullivan and Isaiya Katoa seamlessly and veteran forwards Jesse Bromwich, Felise Kafusi and Mark Nicholls laying the platform up front, the NRL’s newest franchise simply outcompeted an injury-riddled Roosters.
With scores locked at half-time, the Dolphins produced an incredible second half of football, running in three tries in ten minutes to put the game in a bag.
The Roosters kicked off proceedings in the tenth minute after Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako knocked on a Luke Keary bomb in the in goal and centre Joseph Suaali’i managed to get a hand on the ball.
But it only took five minutes for the newcomers to strike back when Marshall-King sliced through the Roosters’ defence before finding Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in support who made history to score the Dolphins’ first NRL try. The fullback converted to make it 6-6.
However, celebrations didn’t last long at Suncorp after Dolphins five-eighth Katoa knocked the ball on off the kick-off and the Roosters capitalised when James Tedesco put Drew Hutchison through from close range.
Come the 35th minute and a seesaw battle began to play out when Marshall-King grabbed his second try assist, sweeping left to find former South Sydney prop Nicholls who crashed over the line to put the home side level just before the half-time buzzer.
After Wayne Bennett’s message was ‘keep it simple’ at halftime, the Dolphins returned to the field to score back-to-back tries through forward Connelly Lemuelu and Isaako to steal a 24-12 lead early in the second half.
Come the 54th and the Roosters looked to hit back when a Keary cross-field kick created an opportunity for Daniel Tupou in the corner but the veteran winger fumbled the ball over the line.
Four minutes later and the Dolphins blew the game wide open when Katoa saw the Rooster’s defence scrambling and found Isaako out wide who strolled over the line and the home side had a 16-point lead.
Things went from bad to worse for the Roosters when second rower Egan Butcher was sin-binned for dangerous contact moments before forwards Victor Radley and Matt Lodge were ruled out with injuries.
With 14 minutes to play, Keary kicked again for Tupou and this time the flyer got a favourable bounce and the visitors reduced the deficit 28-18.