The Sydney Roosters have secured a spot in the grand final after holding on to beat the Melbourne Storm 14-6 in a defensive slug-fest at the SCG.
It didn’t take long for the pressure of game to erupt into a fiery scuffle. Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Siosiua Taukeiaho were both sin binned for striking after coming to blows in the first hit up. The penalty went to the Roosters, and Latrell Mitchell converted the penalty goal to put them up 2-0 early. Both had their opportunities to score after this, but it was the Roosters who got over the line first. Daniel Tupou reeled in a cross-field bomb and was able to get a late offload away for Boyd Cordner to score.
The Storm suffered a big blow when Felise Kaufusi was forced from the field for a HIA mid-way through the half. For the remainder of the half, both teams took turns attacking but neither could make it count on the scoreboard. The score would remain 8-0 going into the break with the defense from both teams holding firm.
The second half started much less fiery than the first. The Storm were able to gain the ascendency through some positive play and early penalties. On the back of the good field position they were finally able to score their first points. Nelson Asofa-Solomona got the ball close to the line and reached out to plant the ball in the in-goal. At the other end of the field the Roosters got an opportunity and thought they had scored. Joseph Manu came up with a one-on-one strip on Cameron Munster in mid-air to dive over. This try would be overturned by the video referee as James Tedesco was ruled to have knocked on in the contest.
The intensity continued to rise with both teams smashing each other in defense. After holding the Storm at bay, Angus Crichton made a linebreak to put the defense on the back foot. The ball then went to James Tedesco who made a surge for the line and found a way to get the ball down. In the same play, the Storm lost Ryan Papenhuyzen to a suspected broken jaw. With their fullback missing, the Storm were not able to find the points to get back in the game. The Roosters defense held on to record a 14-6 win and book themselves a spot in next week’s grand final.
Fire in the first hit up
We always knew this game would be fiery, but no one expected it to blow up in the first hit up of the game. Just 20 seconds in Storm enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona pushed Siosiua Taukeiaho aggressively in the face, which sparked Taukeiaho to strike back with punches of his own. Needless to say, both men found themselves in the sin bin shortly after this encounter. As a result, both teams had to handle the first ten minutes without their enforcers, which took a bit of the sting out of the early exchanges.
Rooster’s defense flexes premiership muscle
Holding a team like the Storm to just six points in a preliminary final is almost unheard of, but that’s exactly what the Roosters did. Time after time the Storm looked as though they were about to break the Roosters, but the continued to turn up for each other. Both sides threw the kitchen sink at each other all night and the defense on show was some of the best we have seen all season. There’s no doubt some injuries affected the Storm towards the end of the game, but through all this the Roosters came out on top which is all that matters.
Storm cruelled by injuries, bow out of finals
The Storm will be left wondering what could’ve been had they only managed to stay healthy in the lead up to this game and during it. They lost star winger Suliasi Vunivalu early in the week, who is one of their go to attacking weapons. They also lost Felise Kaufusi and Jesse Bromwich to HIA and Ryan Papenhuyzen to a broken jaw during the game which caused several re-shuffles. While the injuries certainly had an impact on the Storm, much of this can be put down to just how brutally the Roosters defended.
Stage set for historic grand final
With the Roosters knocking the Storm out of the finals, they have now booked themselves a spot in next week’s grand final against the Canberra Raiders. After all the games that have been played this year, only two teams remain. The Raiders are playing in their first grand final in 25 years and will have the carry the underdog tag. The Roosters have a shot at being the first team to win back to back premierships since the 92-93 Broncos side. Who has what it takes to win it all?
Sydney Roosters 14
Tries: Cordner, Tedesco
Goals: Mitchell 3/4
Drop Goals: n/a
Melbourne Storm 6
Goals: C. Smith 1/1
Drop Goals: n/a
Sydney Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Isaac Liu 9. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley Bench: 14. Angus Crichton 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins
Melbourne Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 17. Will Chambers 3. Curtis Scott 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane Bench: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Max King 21. Sandor Earl