Parker heroics not enough for Thunderbolts
Four tries to winger Cory Parker was not enough for a gallant Thunderbolts side as they were outclassed by the Roosters 44-32 in their Round 20 NYC clash at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday.
Riding high on the back of a three-match winning streak, the Thunderbolts trailed for the majority of the match, but led by two points heading into the final 15 minutes until a flurry of late Roosters' tries took the game beyond their reach.
The 12-point loss against the now second-placed Roosters see the Thunderbolts slip to 13th on the NYC ladder with 16 competition points, six points outside the top eight.
Unseasonal temperatures greeted both sides as they ran out of the tunnel prior to kick-off with the mercury touching 30 degrees courtesy of a blistering northerly wind.
The Thunderbolts were first to open the scoring in the fifth minute, taking advantage of a seven-tackle set that resulted in backrower Jacob Tonge taking an overhead AFL-style mark from a pinpoint cross-field kick.
The Roosters struck back five minutes later with the rampaging Reuben Porter showing some fancy footwork to fool Melbourne fullback Jesse Arthars to level the scoreboard at 6-all.
Three Roosters' tries within the space of 12 minutes took the visitors out to a 20-6 advantage after 26 minutes.
Refusing to be rattled, the 'Bolts crafted a neat backline play to send Parker over the chalk for his first try and the boot of Arthars saw the home team trailing by eight points at the half-hour mark.
Both sides started to settle into a rhythm prior to half-time until a strong bust up the middle by backrower Porter allowed Roosters' hooker Grant Garvey a clear path to the try line.
Sydney five-eighth and 32-game NRL player Jackson Hastings added the extras for the Chooks who took a 26-12 lead into the break.
The Thunderbolts struck first in the second half when Parker snuck over in the corner and Arthars nailed the sideline conversion to narrow the deficit to eight points.
A Roosters' injury halted proceedings for several minutes but the Thunderbolts continued the momentum after the resumption of play with Parker crossing for his third try to take the score to 26-22 in the 50th minute.
The match began to surge from one end of the field to the other until Melbourne five-eighth Scott Drinkwater dashed over next to the posts, allowing Arthars to kick the Thunderbolts into a two-point lead with quarter of an hour remaining.
Melbourne failed to hold onto their lead for long as the Roosters scored a long-range try through Joseph Manu to snatch back the lead at 32-28 heading into the final 10 minutes.
The visitors wrapped up the contest moments later when Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck found space down the right flank to hand the Chooks a 10-point lead.
Garvey crossed for his second try in the dying minutes to seal the victory for the Roosters, with the Thunderbolts scoring a consolation through Parker to end the contest at 44-32.
Despite their brave effort, Thunderbolts coach Eric Smith lamented the defensive application of his troops.
"It's definitely disappointing to lose because we were in a position to win that game at the back end, but whether it was deserved or not was another thing," Smith said.
"Defensively we were well below our best and our intent and courage in defence was what let us down.
"We are still proud of the effort we've been putting in and the results we've been getting over the past month."
Smith saved praise for four-try hero Parker, who tormented the Chooks down the right wing throughout the contest.
"Cory did a really good job finishing off three of his (four) tries but there was a lot of good work done on the inside for him as well."
Under-20 Sydney Roosters 44 (Sitili Tupouniua 2, Grant Garvey 2, Reuben Porter, Jarred Anderson, Joseph Manu, Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck tries; Jackson Hastings 6 goals) defeated Melbourne Thunderbolts 32 (Cory Parker 4, Jacob Tonge, Scott Drinkwater tries; Jesse Arthars 4 goals) at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Half-time: 26-12.