Wayne Bennett's Dolphins have produced a spectacular NRL debut, defeating competition heavyweights Sydney Roosters 28-18 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The NRL's newest franchise simply outclassed an error-riddled Roosters in front of over 32,000 as Bennett's side capped off celebrations honouring the late Arthur Beetson.
Former Bulldogs hooker Jeremy Marshall-King starred to link well with halves Sean O'Sullivan and Isaiya Katoa seamlessly while veteran forwards Jesse Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Mark Nicholls showed age is no barrier in 2023.
With scores locked at half-time, the Dolphins produced an incredible second half of football, running in three tries in 10 minutes to run away with victory.
The Roosters kicked off proceedings in the 10th minute after Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako knocked on a Luke Keary bomb in the in goal and centre Joseph Suaali'i managed to get a hand on the ball.
Suaalii gets Roosters first
The newcomers struck back when Marshall-King sliced through the Roosters defence before finding Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in support who made history to score the Dolphins' first-ever NRL try.
Dolphins five-eighth Katoa had a moment to forget after the try when he knocked the ball on off the kick-off, enabling the Roosters to capitalise when James Tedesco put Drew Hutchison through from close range.
Come the 35th minute and a seesaw battle began to play out when Marshall-King grabbed his second try assist, sweeping left to find former South Sydney prop Nicholls who crashed over the line.
Dolphins in again
After Bennett's message was 'keep it simple' at half-time, the Dolphins returned to score back-to-back tries through forward Connelly Lemuelu and Isaako to steal a 24-12 lead early in the second half.
The Roosters looked to hit back when a Keary cross-field kick created an opportunity for Daniel Tupou in the corner but the veteran winger fumbled the ball over the line.
Four minutes later and the Dolphins blew the game wide open when Katoa saw the Roosters defence scrambling and found Isaako out wide who strolled over the line and the home side had a 16-point lead.
Things went from bad to worse for the Roosters when second rower Egan Butcher was sin-binned for dangerous contact moments before forwards Victor Radley and Matt Lodge were ruled out with head injuries.
With 14 minutes to play, Keary kicked again for Tupou and this time the flyer got a favourable bounce to bring the scores 28-18 but that's as close as the visitors came to reducing the deficit.
Match: Dolphins v Roosters
Round 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Hooker Brandon Smith's Roosters debut got off to a shaky start after he was sent for a HIA in the fifth minute of the match.
- Roosters forward Egan Butcher was placed on report in the 64th minute of the match for a dangerous tackle on Jarrod Wallace.
- After leading the competition in tackle breaks last season (169), James Tedesco got his 2023 campaign off to a great start after breaking five tackles.
- Jeremy Marshall-King had a day out in his new No. 9 jersey, making 40 tackles, setting up two tries and breaking the line.
- The Roosters line up included seven different 2022 World Cup nation representatives.
- Dolphins prop Jarrod Wallace has played against the Roosters in all three of his club debuts (Broncos, Titans and Dolphins).
- 35 years ago, Wayne Bennett coached his first NRL game for the Broncos in Round 1 of the 1988 season.
Bennett compares Dolphins and Broncos first wins
- Roosters forwards Victor Radley and Matt Lodge both left the field for a head knock and did not return after failing their HIA.
- Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has won eight of his past 10 games against the Roosters.
- The Roosters have lost their opening game in five of the past six seasons.
- Dolphins captain Jesse Bromwich has won 21 games from 24 at Suncorp Stadium.
Play of the Game
The competition newcomers looked as if they'd been playing together for years when the forwards and backs linked up to produce some slick ball movement down the right hand side. The ball found young playmaker Katoa who fooled the Roosters' defence with a fake kick before sweeping right and quick through Kaufusi and Brenko Lee find Isaako on the wing who put the game in a bag.
Isaako extends Dolphins lead
What They Said
“It was special for a lot of reasons today. Certainly for Arthur (Beetson), the club and the chance they took for being in the NRL and to have thirty thousand people here. There’s so many winners today but the biggest winner is the game. That’s the biggest winner. One of the most difficult things is to get that win because it just settles everything down. That’s why I brought Kenny and Jesse (Bromwich) and Felise (Kafusi) because I knew what they brought and we all saw that today. That’s what we build the foundations on, we can’t build foundations on young men that don’t have a lot of football behind them, it just doesn’t work that way.”
- Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett
Dolphins: Round 1
"Our forwards sort of got dominated in the ruck and they opened us up a couple of times in the first half and definitely the start of the second half. We didn’t create enough momentum to take our opportunities. We knew they were going to play through their forwards and off their nine. They were really tight pressuring the ruck and they did really well. We got outworked and got what we deserved in the end." - Roosters coach Trent Robinson
"We had guys go off a bit and had some inexperienced middles which got dominated a bit. They blew our ruck open a fair few times and you can't let that happen. When we completed our sets we looked good but just killing ourselves with errors. It's always going to take time, the positive is it's only Round 1. We wanted to start the year strong and have a good win especially going into our bye in Round 4 so it's disappointing." - Roosters captain James Tedesco
Roosters: Round 1
The Dolphins will look to make it two straight when they play the Raiders in front of a home crowd at Redcliffe's Kayo Stadium. The Roosters look to regroup when they host the Warriors at Allianz Stadium with Joey Manu and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves expected back on deck to bolster the side.
Kaufusi goes bang