Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce said his team tried to "pretty our way around" Wests Tigers in the first half on Monday night. Yet they have rarely looked prettier than in an explosive second half against the hapless Tigers.
A 42-point blitz in the second half gave the Roosters a 56-14 win - their eighth consecutive victory and another step towards the minor premiership, even against opponents who were hopelessly lacking in confidence. Five-eighth James Maloney kicked 10 goals from 10 attempts, while Pearce, centre Michael Jennings and bench hooker Daniel Mortimer each scored doubles.
"Obviously the first half was disappointing," Pearce said. "We got a fair spray from Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) at halftime, which was well-deserved. We tried to pretty our way around them, and we soon found out in the second half the way to play them was go through them. It's probably been the way we've played all year.
"When we get that sort of roll on, we're pretty hard to stop.
"It's certainly the style we're going to have to take into the next month of footy."
Robinson added: "We got a little bit away from what we wanted in the first half. We lacked a bit of composure in what we wanted to do. But the boys got it back on track in the second half, and did a good job."
The Roosters' only real concern following their victory was the reporting of prop Luke O'Donnell over a lifting tackle on Tigers centre Tim Simona, which came during a fiery period at the end of the first half.
"It was obviously spectacular," Robinson said. "He (Simona) landed back on his feet, I think - a bit like a swinging arm that misses. Obviously (he) had to get cooled back down there a bit - it was getting a bit fiery.
"I thought he got back into the game and got clear. I don't think Luke O'Donnell of three or four years ago would have done that, so it was a credit to him to play out the game like he did after those five minutes."
Tigers coach Mick Potter said he didn't believe O'Donnell meant any harm.
"It did look dangerous, but I don't think there was intent or anything with it," Potter said. "Momentum just carried it on. It was probably good that he didn't stop halfway through."
Potter has his own issues. Fighting to hold onto his job, his team collapsed in the second half. Five-eighth Benji Marshall's disappointments continue, while injured skipper Robbie Farah is far from a guaranteed starter for the club's next clash, against St George Illawarra next Saturday. Against the Roosters, the Tigers showed fight early but folded in the second half.
"I was encouraged by what we did in the first half," Potter said. "I thought we took it to them . . . in the second half there was a period there where it was just disastrous. I think our players, they were trying, and they kept trying, and you could see that once we got the ball, we were still trying to come up with plays ... we just couldn't contain them.
"There are some encouraging signs, but the scoreboard doesn't reflect encouraging signs. We need to do some things better than what we're doing, and we need to be a bit patient."
There was one significant positive for the Tigers; the return of winger Lote Tuqiri, playing his first match in more than a year. The veteran maintained the Tigers, who have now lost six matches in a row, would emerge stronger from their horror stretch.
"It's tough to go through nights like this," Tuqiri said. "I went through a few of these up in Brisbane. It makes you a bit stronger. That was a bit embarrassing, but they know they don't want to feel like that again.
"We've got to play for a bit of pride over the next few weeks."