Nothing’s over until it’s over
The Roosters put in their best performance of the season against the Storm. After last week’s hiding by Manly, they lifted to put in a resolute defensive showing. A penalty try and 3 penalty goals were the only way the Storm could get on the scoreboard for most of the match.
As all champions teams do though, they found a way to win. After Connor Watson charged down an attempt at field goal from Cronk, the Storm found themselves with another set and for the first time the Roosters defence panicked. Aubusson rushed up on Cronk to shut down a cut out pass who instead went short to Stimson who plunged over the line.
The Storm rarely looked like the better team but they proved that you have play for every second of the 80 minutes if you’re to take them down.
People love whinging about refs
The Roosters lost the game because in the end their defence faltered at a crucial moment and strange positional moves that proved costly like moving Ryan Matterson to the wing which produced 4 errors.
If you were to ask social media though, the NRL referees were conspiring to bring the Roosters down. The penalty try awarded to Vunivalu was a dubious one. It was not beyond all reasonable doubt he would have scored. However conceding a try then and there might have been better than playing on for 10 minutes with just 12 men which could have produced more points for the Storm.
There were knock on calls that weren’t actually knock ons. Penalties that were 50/50 at best for both sides and Cameron Smith was at his chatty best. Regardless games aren’t won and lost on officiating calls. They’re won in preparation, training, execution and ultimately attitude.
Roosters genuine contenders
Heading into the game the Roosters were placed 2nd but it hardly seemed like their position reflected their form. On the two prior occasions they had faced fellow Top 4 teams, the Broncos and Sharks gave them a thrashing. The last time they played the Storm earlier in the year, they were missing the holy trinity and the Roosters just got away with a 1 point win.
However this match proved that they are genuine contenders. Their defence was immense for all but the last 3 minutes of the match. They turned away the competition leaders with the 2nd best attack in the league time and again with Joe Stimson’s late try being the only time they genuinely breached the line.
Connor Watson was absolutely amazing at the back as he ran for 220m with ball in hand while Luke Keary nailed the first field goal of his career like it was nothing. They didn’t win the game but they proved that at their best, they are genuine contenders for the title.
Bizareness abounds in game of season
Contentious refereeing calls, back-rowers on the wing, Pearce finding the grass with a kick instead of Slater. None of this could hold a candle to the actions of Suliasi Vunivalu.
His giant leap into the defenders after a kick return was one of the most unexpected and bizarre moments in Rugby League history. To those who say that they’ve seen it all before, Vunivalu has proved that they’ve seen nothing yet.
In The Sheds
Felise Kaufusi came off the field with what was reportedly a light medial ligament injury.
Melbourne Storm- 16
Penalty Try: Suliasi Vunivalu (26m)
Tries: Joe Stimson (77m)
Goals: Cameron Smith 4/5
Sydney Roosters- 13
Tries: Luke Keary (29m), Mitchell Aubusson (60m)
Goals: Latrell Mitchell 2/2
Field Goal: Luke Keary (74m)