The Roosters took their home game to Adelaide Oval in a battle of two of the competition heavyweights where they take on the Storm. Biggest talking point out of this match is that it’s the first time we saw Cooper Cronk play against Melbourne after joining the Roosters this season after 323 games for the Storm. Roosters looking for 5 in a row, Storm looking for 4 as both teams look to force their way into the top four after the Warriors controversial loss to the Sharks.
Wow, what a finish. Last years Adelaide match between these two sides was decided in Golden Point by a Mitchell Pearce field goal and we almost had Golden Point again.
Some changes to both teams with Felise Kaufusi ruled out due to rolling his ankle in Origin 2, he was replaced in the second row by Joe Stimson, with Patrick Kaufusi (the older brother of Felise) making his debut off the bench. Ryley Jacks was dropped from the final 17 with Jahrome Hughes starting at halfback and Tui Kamikamica playing off the bench for his first game this season.
For the Roosters, Mitch Aubusson was ruled out with a hamstring injury and replaced in the starting side by Matt Ikuvalu (playing his second game of first grade) and Sitili Tupouina joining the bench in his debut game.
The first-half was very stop/start with 15 penalties and both teams being warned that someone was at risk of sitting down for 10, though surprisingly both teams were quite keen to take the tap and keep the pressure on, with the scores locked up at 2-2 at half time after Latrell Mitchell missed a penalty goal from out wide on the stroke of half time.
The game opened up in the second half and so did the weather. Victor Radley went to the sin-bin, Melbourne dropped it off the tap, Nelson Asofa-Solomona scored the first try in the 60th minute. Matt Ikuvalu scored a great try out wide off a nice set scrum play and Latrell Mitchell kicked a clutch conversion over the black dot from the sideline. The scores were locked up at 8-8 when the Roosters got awarded a penalty 10 out from right in front. Even after drilling his last kick from the sideline, Latrell shanked this one and somehow hit the upright in a moment that will be remembered for years to come.
Both teams had a few chances towards the end of the game to go up by one, but both teams struggled to capitalise. At one stage the Roosters got a scrum 15 out from their own line and we saw a rare differential scrum penalty as Isaac Liu had a brain explosion and picked the ball up while packed into the second row to hand the ball over to Melbourne. Two charge-down plays from both teams stopped field goals in a wildly entertaining last 15 minutes.
CRONK VS STORM
Cooper Cronk plays his first game against the Storm after playing 323 games for them before signing with the Roosters in the offseason. There was always questions over Cronk moving after spending his whole career in Melbourne and to be fair he has probably been a bit disappointing this season, and his impact tonight was pretty consistent with the rest of his season: he was okay. Stats certainly aren’t everything, but he had 54 run metres, 19 tackles, 1 tackle bust and 11 kicks for 360 kick metres, although the biggest factor of all was his two field goal attempts to put his team ahead were charged down by his old teammates. At the end of the game it appeared that Cameron Smith was tired of watching his teammates miss field goals and knock on so he took it upon himself to snap the winning field goal from 45 metres out with one minute to go.
NRL IN ADELAIDE
The Roosters take another home game to the famous Adelaide Oval, where they usually play AFL/Cricket and as such it’s a much faster track on a winter’s night, which resulted in a few more dropped balls and kicks going dead. Not a massive crowd in Adelaide despite the great match up, but it was a rainy winters night and it is a massive stadium so that can be forgiven. Two years in a row we’ve had this fixture at Adelaide Oval and both games have been decided by a field goal, so that’s great for the game and hopefully will grow the game in AFL territory. Total crowd attendance was 17, 728.
Absolutely one of the most improved players in the NRL this season, which is why he was rewarded with a NSW jersey and made such an impact in the first two Origin games. He had a mixed night in Adelaide with some great plays and one play in particular that was so bad that it surprised both everyone watching the game.
Early in the second half he tackled NSW teammate Josh Addo-Carr and ‘rag-dolled’ him towards the sideline Gordon Tallis style.It was always going to be a great match up with him and Will Chambers after they went at it in Origin, and even though Melbourne got the W, it must be said that Latrell probably had the better of Will again, which is massive considering that Chambers is (or was) arguably the best centre in the world
He posted first points via penalty goal but missed a penalty goal from out wide just before half-time. He drilled one over the black dot from the sideline to level the scores at 8-8 in the rain yet hit the post for penalty goal right in front from 10m out to put the Roosters up by 2.
PENALTIES AND ERRORS
We had 15 penalties in the first-half, lots of errors from both sides and Victor Radley went to the sin bin early in the second-half after a late/high shot on Christian Welch. While Jake Friend was blowing up about the sin-binning, referee Grant Atkins reminded Jake that he did warn him just before half-time that the next player to give away a penalty was going to sit down. To make the situation worse, Melbourne took the tap and Nelson Asofa-Solomona dropped the ball and handed it right back to the Roosters.
It seemed like the referees put the whistle in the pocket after half time with only four second-half penalties, and unsurprisingly this made for a much more exciting contest. The final error count was 24 on a wet night. There was some Origin dramas with Dylan Napa being taken off with 10 minutes to go after taking a big shot to the knee from Asofa-Solomona and Josh Addo-Carr limping around for a lot of the game and even having to swap sides with Suliasi Vunivalu.
Tries: Matt Ikuvalu 64′
Goals: Latrell Mitchell (28’/64′)
Tries: Nelson Asofa-Solomona 60′,
Goals: Cameron Smith (35’/61′)
Drop Goals: Cameron Smith 79′
Sydney Roosters: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 17 Matthew Ikuvalu, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Victor Radley, 12, Nat Butcher, 13 Isaac Liu Interchange: 14 Lindsay Collins, 15 Zane Tetevano, 16 Kurt Baptiste, 18 Sitili Tupouniua
Melbourne Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 17 Jahrome Hughes, 8 Tim Glasby, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 16 Joe Stimson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Kenny Bromwich Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Christian Welch, 19 Tui Kamikamica, 20 Patrick Kaufusi
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