James Tedesco won the battle of the No.1s and showed why the NRL’s new rules will make him even better as he helped the Sydney Roosters beat South Sydney 28-12 on Friday night.
Tedesco scored a try and ran for more than 260 metres in the Roosters’ first win of the year to ignite their title defence in front of 515 Corflute cutouts at Bankwest Stadium .
With Latrell Mitchell in the opposing No.1 jersey, Tedesco won the bragging rights against his former teammate after the Roosters took a 12-6 lead to halftime.
He laid the major punch after the break when he bust through Cameron Murray and Troy Dargan from 30 metres out before beating Mitchell to the line.
It was one of several dangerous runs back through the ruck for the reigning Dally M Medallist, who looks ready to capitalise on a quicker game under the new six-again rule.
“It looked a bit more freedom there,” coach Trent Robinson said.
“Those runs you see every game from Teddy, where we might have two or three.
“He had five or six tonight. Across the ruck, cutting back and looking for opportunities. Like it did last night.”
He also had a hand in a first-half try when he helped put Josh Morris and Daniel Tupou into clear air with some quick hands.
It allowed a chasing Kyle Flanagan to capitalise with his maiden try in Roosters’ colours when Morris kicked back in-field for him.
Mitchell, meanwhile, had his moments in his highly-anticipated clash with his old club.
He spilled a simple ball on a kick return midway through the first half and again ran less than 80 metres.
But he pulled off a nice defensive play to stop a Luke Keary break close to the line, and put Murray over for the Rabbitohs’ first try before the break.
It marked the first time he played a full game at fullback for Souths, with coach Wayne Bennett unwilling to add fuel to the ongoing analysis of his performance.
“He got to play a full game tonight, so that’s an improvement,” Bennett said.
“You (media) all have your own opinions on him. I’ve got mine.”
Meanwhile, Keary was the other star for the Roosters at No.6.
Moments after Tedesco crashed over to start the second half, he went to the line and put captain Boyd Cordner over from close range.
It came after he’d also helped open the scoring when he kicked across field for a leaping Tupou, who jumped above Dane Gagai to mark the ball and score.
Brett Morris also pulled off the play of the game in defence.
He at one stage dragged down Braidon Burns and Alex Johnston in the same play after the former made a 60m intercept, before backing it up to dive on a kick later in the set.