The Grand Final rematch has produced the game of the year so far, resulting in a thrilling extra point finish at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Sometimes you get games that are physical but lack precision, or games that are close but don’t have that raw physicality. Last night in front of 17,000 at AAMI Park, the Storm and Roosters had everything. Cronk’s return to Melbourne drew jeers from the Storm faithful and there was no love lost between the Dally M winning halfback and his old club. The Roosters were focused and skipped out to a 20-0 lead with tries from Latrell Mitchell, Jared Waerea-Hargraeves and James Tedesco.
The best of the three coming from an Inglis-like run down the sideline from Mitchell, beating two players with his fend and delivering it to an untouched Tedesco. The Storm needed to hit back before halftime, and they did through prolific try scorer Josh Addo-Carr in the corner after a well worked play. After halftime it became the Cameron Smith show with the future-immortal putting young gun Tui Kamikamica through a hole to score. Curtis Scott then found a gap in the Roosters goal-line defence, busting his way over from dummy-half in the 51st minute to tie the game.
With intensity at a peak, JWH hit Brodie Croft high, sparking an all-in jersey tug as the teams fought for physical superiority. The arm-wrestle continued until a couple of missed field goal attempts resulted in the siren sounded at a tied game. Golden point began with the Roosters receiving, a missed tackle from Dale Finucane and Cam Smith let young gun Sitili Tupouniua run forty metres down the field, putting the Roosters into Cronk territory. You could see the headline, Clutch Cronk stars in golden point thriller.
With Cronk set up perfectly on the right thirty-five metres out from goal straight in-front, the Storm defence charged towards him, only to watch Victor Radley pass left to the 21-year-old centre, who perfectly struck a field goal from forty metres out. Capping of a quintessential game of Rugby League.
With Greg Inglis’ retirement, Latrell Mitchell has cemented his position as the game’s most dangerous ball-runner. The aggression, skill and raw ability of Mitchell is at times unstoppable and he proved this last night against the best. A try, try assist and match winning drop goal showed off this young man’s pure ability to play Rugby League.
The Roosters boasted a very young lineup, after late scratching Siosiua Taukeiaho was ruled out in the warm up. This forced the Roosters to debut two players and young two gamer Tupouniua, who made the big run to get Mitchell into range to kick the winner. All three players stood strong and would have made Trent Robinson very proud.
STORM’S SLOW STARTS
A rarity for the well-drilled Storm but two weeks in a row have found themselves down at halftime. You can be certain that Craig Bellamy will be looking to stamp out the trend before it becomes a habit.
GRAND FINAL PREVIEW?
The two clubs seem to be a head above the rest at the moment, sitting tied at the top of the ladder with one loss each. Are we heading towards another chapter of the Storm vs Roosters rivalry to hit its peak in this year’s Grand Final? It is still very early in the season but at the moment these two sides are a head above the rest.
Melbourne Storm – 20
Tries: J. Addo-Carr – 37’, T. Kamikamica – 48’, C. Scott – 51’
Goals: Brodie Croft – 4/4
Drop Goals: 0/2
Sydney Roosters – 21
Tries: L. Mitchell – 4’, J. Waerea-Hargreaves – 20’, J. Tedesco – 29’
Goals: L. Mitchell – 4/4
Drop Goals: L. Mitchell – 81’
Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 21. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 17. Mitch Aubusson 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Victor Radley 14. Lindsay Collins 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Zane Tetevano 15. Nat Butcher 18. Sam Verrills 19. Sitili Tupouniua 20. Josh Curran