The Roosters sent skipper Braith Anasta off with a win in his final home game for the team.
Photo: Getty Images
The season may have ended with Coach Brian Smith being shown the door, but there were enough signs throughout the year to give fans hope that a revival may not be too far away.
Former Catalans Giant's coach Trent Robinson has been announced as the man to take the job next year and there is enough raw talent at the club that he will have something to work with.
Round 1: South Sydney 20-24 Roosters
The opening match of the Roosters' season was a belter against arch-rivals Souths.
After a solid pre-season, the memorable Monday night win suggested that 2012 could bring some pleasure for the Chooks.
At half-time scores were locked at 12 apiece, but a converted John Sutton try in the 47th minute and a penalty goal soon after gave the Rabbitohs an apparently winning lead.
In the 78th minute Jared Waerea-Hargreaves ploughed over the line to give the Roosters a sniff of victory, then with less than 20 seconds left on the clock Boyd Cordner kicked ahead for Anthony Minichiello to swoop and score the winning try.
"It was certainly looking very dim but I hadn't conceded," coach Brian Smith beamed after the match.
Recruit Daniel Mortimer teamed reasonably with Mitchell Pearce in the halves and looked a possible long-term number six. Sam Perrett was effective on his wing and seemed set for a great year with the Bondi boys.
Round 7: Roosters 12-50 North Queensland
After six rounds the Roosters were sitting in the top eight with a 4-2 record and plenty of optimism for the season ahead. In mid-April they travelled to Darwin to play in 33 degree heat, having sold a home match to play at TIO Stadium. Smith's team was mauled by the heat-acclimated Cowboys who ran in nine tries to two. Mitchell Pearce bore the brunt of criticism, being schooled by Maroons counterpart Johnathan Thurston. The Roosters only completed 19 sets and had two line breaks for the match. Anthony Minichiello was reasonable at full-back, but his team was smashed in every part of the field. Nine Cowboys ran for more than 100m; no Roosters forward ran even 90m.
Round 10: Warriors 30-26 Roosters
With the season poised at a 5-4 win-loss record the Roosters flew to Auckland ready to make a statement. In a see-sawing contest the Roosters took the lead through tries to Joseph Leilua and Aidan Guerra, lost it before half-time, then regained it when Tautau Moga scored his debut try. Again the Warriors claimed the lead, again the visitors hit back through Waerea-Hargreaves. Two more Warriors tries left the Roosters struggling until a Minichiello try with four minutes to go made it anyone's game. In an agonizing final minute the Roosters were unlucky with several calls and the home team successfully milked the clock to hold on for the win.
Hyped winger Moga looked good in his first top-grade outing, and Guerra was superb in the backrow. However Braith Anasta's goalkicking (three from six compared to James Maloney's five from five) was the difference. After this blow, the Roosters' season imploded and they only won one more game before round 22.
Round 18: Cronulla 14-14 Roosters
On a cold Monday night in Cronulla the Roosters went within an ace of getting back on track with a win. In the end the teams couldn't be separated even after extra time. This was a chance that went begging, because the Sharks were without Paul Gallen, Colin Best, Jason Bukuya and Jeremy Smith. The Roosters were caned 9-2 in the penalties and could not muster enough completed sets to capitalise on some strong defence. Waerea-Hargreaves was brutal when the home side had the ball, but overstepped the mark and was placed on report twice. He also conceded three penalties.
The Roosters in jumpers one to five made a combined 13 errors; the men in numbers eight and higher made none. When a Pearce cross-kick found Guerra for a 77th-minute try which was converted it looked like the Roosters might go on to register a much-needed victory – but, as so often in 2012, they could not seal the deal.
Round 19: Roosters 22-24 South Sydney
As if any confirmation was needed that 2012 was a bad year for the Eastern Suburbs mob, it came when the hated Rabbitohs took revenge for the opening round boilover. Souths snared two tries in the closing two minutes to sneak a miraculous win. When Mitchell Pearce scored in the 75th minute, Anasta converted it to make the lead a seemingly unassailable 22-12. However Nathan Merritt bolted across the stripe in the 79th minute, and then a Bunnies surge from the kick-off culminated in the winning score to Adam Reynolds.
The Roosters had 54 per cent of possession and had many excellent performers including Minichiello, Moga, Cordner and Martin Kennedy. Joseph Leilua collected his own grubber and appeared to score before it was shown that he had put a foot out of bounds. Midway through the second half video ref Russell Smith denied what looked to be another Leilua try. Somehow the Roosters lost, probably the bitterest defeat in a difficult year.
Round 25: Roosters 44-20 Wests Tigers
However grim a season is, it is crucial to give supporters something to cling to over the long summer months. This is what the Roosters provided when they roasted the Tigers in the penultimate round. They smashed their rivals in all facets of the game, pulling out to a 32-0 lead before easing off for a comfortable win. Key aspects that delighted Roosters diehards included second-gamer Daniel Tupou scoring a hat-trick, and starting props Waerea-Hargreaves and Kennedy combining for 362m running and 52 tackles. This was the last home game for skipper Anasta, and Minichiello scored in his 250th game for the club. After a rough season, it provided a bit of warmth and belief for Roosters fans to hold on to, and optimism that 2013 might be a better year.
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