Smith hurt as Roosters survive scare against Warriors

Scott Bailey |

The Sydney Roosters’ early season injury woes have deepened, with Brandon Smith left struggling with a back injury after their 20-12 win over the Warriors.

The Roosters’ new-look left edge showed glimpses of its threat in the win, as Luke Keary and Joseph Suaalii linked up nicely before the Roosters survived a late scare.

Suaalii ended the match on report after a late hit on Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, six days out from a bumper clash against South Sydney.

But it is the fitness of Smith that will most concern the Roosters.

The hooker lasted 27 minutes at Allianz Stadium on Saturday after battling a rib injury last week, and while he was needled up it was later discovered the issue was with his back.

“It’s disappointing, second week,” coach Trent Robinson said.

“I’m not sure (whether he will face Souths). Based on that injury I am not sure how long that all takes.”

The Roosters are hopeful of having Victor Radley and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves return next week, but are still without Angus Crichton, Matt Lodge, Sitili Tupouniua and Billy Smith.

Smith’s injury soured a win that will silence at least some of the Roosters’ critics after their shock loss to the Dolphins last week.

The Roosters had chances to win the game by more, but failed to make the most of them.

Right-side winger Jaxson Paulo bagged two tries, while Lindsay Collins was immense up front and Jake Turpin filled in for Smith with class.

Keary and Suaalii’s best moment came when they put the Tri-colours up 18-6, Keary dummying to his right and then passing to his left to put Suaalii into space.

From there the teenager bust down field and eventually found Sam Walker looming up in support to score.

It was one of two times Suaalii was able to get into clean air in the second half, with Walker putting him into space again minutes later through the centre of the field before the ball went to ground.

“We were OK today but I would be pushing that left edge for more,” Robinson said.

“(Suaalii) showed more nous this week, (but) he can do better.

“He is not here to be the young kid developing any more. He is here to nail his role and nail it well and execute it well.

“He got himself into positions to do that better this week, and now it’s time to execute the big moments.”

When Walker scored in the 57th minute, the game appeared almost over.

But with Nicoll-Klokstad and Jackson Ford off with concussion, and Josh Curran with a hip injury, the Warriors threatened to pull off an unlikely upset when Marata Niukore sent Addin Fonua-Blake across.

Then in the space of five minutes the Warriors failed to make use of a Wayde Egan bust, had Edward Kosi play the ball to no one when on the attack and watched Dylan Walker drop the ball metres out from the line.

“I just said to the boys I’m super proud of how hard we are competing for how long,” coach Andrew Webster said.

“But we just keep making it really hard.

“When we got to a six-point game I felt like we had enough ball to win.”