James Tedesco helped kick-start Sydney Roosters’ NRL title defence as he starred in a 28-12 win over arch-rivals South Sydney at Bankwest Stadium.
Handed the toughest draw of any team in the rejigged season, the Roosters got their first win of the year from three attempts in front of 515 Corflute cutouts on Friday night .
And as has so often been the case, Tedesco was at the centre of it after the Tri-colours led 12-6 at halftime.
The Roosters No.1 laid the first major punch moments after the break when he bust through Cameron Murray and Troy Dargan from 30 metres out before beating Latrell Mitchell to the line.
The reigning Dally M medallist finished the night with nine tackle busts and 267 metres, as he looked threatening again and again close to the line.
He also had a hand in a first-half try when he helped put Brett 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.
Luke Keary was again impressive at No.6 for the Roosters.
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 Daniel Tupou, who jumped above Dane Gagai to mark the ball and score.
Meanwhile, 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.
For Souths, Mitchell 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 Keary break close to the line, and put Cameron Murray over for the Rabbitohs’ first try before the break.
Tom Burgess then got Souths’ only other, as Damien Cook and Murray combined to put him over from close to the line.