Sydney Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello admits he was at fault for Penrith’s decisive try that led to the Panthers’ 19-18 win on Saturday.
It was a 300th game to forget for Anthony Minichello and the Sydney Roosters skipper knows he owes his teammates a big performance as the premiers fight to keep their title defence alive.
Minichiello on Sunday said the Roosters weren’t hitting the panic button despite their dramatic 19-18 qualifying final loss to Penrith leaving the tricolours needing to win three sudden-death encounters to successfully defend their title.
If the Roosters are to become the first team since Brisbane in 1993 to win a united competition back-to-back, they’ll first need to overcome in-form North Queensland on Friday night at Allianz Stadium, then beat South Sydney just to make the grand final.
The Cowboys have lost just one of their past eight games and comfortably beat Brisbane 32-20 in Saturday’s third elimination final in Townsville.
The tough ask is a far cry from last year when a fully rested Roosters side took full advantage of their week off to hammer Newcastle in the preliminary final before going on to beat Manly in the decider.
However, Minichiello says the lack of a break isn’t that big an issue with the game being on home soil.
“We’ll be right, we’ll get ready. It’s a few days to recover, everyone is a bit sore and sorry, but we’re still in with a shout and at home,” he said.
“You can’t win every milestone game .. we have to move on pretty quickly the good thing here is that we are a pretty positive group.”
The Roosters also face the prospect of losing forward enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves after he was placed on report on Saturday night for a swinging arm to the head of Penrith prop Brent Kite.
But hooker Jake Friend is expected to be back for the Cowboys clash following a serious chest injury, with back-rower Aidan Guerra returning from a one-match suspension.
Minichiello admitted the pair were missed against Penrith but warned the Roosters must improve considerably if they are to have any chance of beating Paul Green’s side.
“We certainly didn’t deal with our game in the first half, we didn’t play to the standards we set ourselves,” he said.
“We tried to find it in the second half but it was too late. The thing with these games is to start well.
“Friendy trained yesterday and we’re hopeful he comes back in.
“Mitch Aubusson has gone great and can play in some many positions but Friendy adds a lot to our team, he adds that bit of class.”
Friday night’s showdown with the Cowboys could be Minichiello’s last before hanging up the boots and the veteran fullback hopes he delivers a better display than he did against the Panthers.
The former NSW State of Origin and Australian Test star made an error of judgement late in the game that helped the Panthers snatch victory.
With the premiers leading 18-12 with three minutes remaining, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak darted in front of Minichiello to flick back a ball that was heading into touch, allowing Dean Whare to score a try.
Jamie Soward’s sideline conversion set up the grandstand finish and later said he deliberately targeted Minichiello with probing kicks and the Roosters skipper knows he should have done better.
“It was definitely my mistake there. I should have probably taken it out,” Minichiello said.
“It would have given them another set but I would have backed our defence to hold them out.
“I let the boys down a little bit there … but you have to move on.”