A merciless Storm have heaped more pain on Trent Robinson's battered premiers, with three more key Roosters going down in a 24-6 loss to Melbourne at the SCG on Thursday night.
The Roosters lost halfback Lachlan Lam (syndesmosis) and back-rower Mitch Aubusson (suspected wrist fracture) in the first half then star playmaker Luke Keary (ribs) in the second.
There was greatest concern for three-time premiership-winner Keary, with the club calling an ambulance with fears a hit to his ribcage in a first half tackle may have caused an internal injury.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said Keary was in pain as he left for the hospital while he feared Aubusson had suffered a fractured wrist.
"[Keary] is not great at the moment. Very sore. Very painful. Something internal. We thought it was rib but worked out it's something a bit deeper than that. He's in quite a bit of pain and off [to hospital] now," Robinson said after the match.
"Aubo wrist, Lachie syndesmosis. The way [Aubusson] came off you could see the wrist underneath there, you could see him carrying that so that [a fracture] is the fear."
Match: Roosters v Storm
Round 14 -
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
The Storm didn't escape injuries either with winger Suliasi Vunivalu suffering a suspected broken jaw and Jahrome Hughes likely to miss a week with a groin injury.
"I was real proud of our guys tonight," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
"I know the Roosters have got a lot of injuries. To lose a guy like Keary, he's one of the elite players in the competition. Aubusson went off as well.
"We had a couple of problems too, Hughes really battled on, Brandon Smith battled on as well, he came back on. Suli looks like he's got a broken jaw."
With two players out for the season and five more certain starters currently sidelined, the Roosters will be desperate for the likes of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Angus Crichton to return soon with new recruit Sonny Bill Williams likely needing a week or two of conditioning before he is ready for NRL action.
Lam hurt his ankle in the 27th minute and last week's 300-gamer Aubusson went off with what looked like a fractured wrist after Storm giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona landed awkwardly on him in a tackle in the 35th.
The Storm may have been without the game's best player in Cameron Smith and one of the best halves in Cameron Munster but you wouldn't have known it with electric No.7 Jahrome Hughes putting in one of the performances of his career to guide the Storm home.
Prop Christian Welch, winger Josh Addo-Carr and centre Justin Olam each had arguably their best game of the season while the likes of Brandon Smith and Ryan Papenhuyzen were also impressive.
Things started going wrong early for the Roosters, who finished their first set of the game poorly, conceding a 20-metre restart followed by a six-again restart.
The Storm cashed in soon after when Hughes stepped through four defenders from 10 metres out to plant the ball down for opening points.
Hughes slips through the Roosters
Four times in the first half the Roosters gave up possession inside their own half via cold drops from Matt Ikuvalu, Joey Manu and Sitili Tupouniua while debutant winger Christian Tuipulotu once ran behind his own players to give up a penalty.
That penalty allowed Papenhuyzen to kick for 8-0 while there was also a try to Olam following some brilliant left-edge ball movement from Pepenhuyzen and Addo-Carr.
Down 14-0 after 22 minutes, the Roosters were lucky not to concede further points in the half with a Papenhuyzen try from a Suliasi Vunivalu bat-back pulled up thanks to the winger's heel scraping the touchline.
Olam beats Manu to secure a double
A Lindsay Collins error in his own half and a Tuipulotu error from a kick heaped more pressure on the Tricolours after the resumption with Olam crashing through some poor right side defence in the 46th minute.
Hughes split the Roosters straight through the middle from the very next set with a supporting Felise Kaufusi supporting to make it 24-0.
With Keary joining Aubusson and Lam in the sheds, the Roosters were left with just bench playmaker Drew Hutchison to call the shots in the final quarter of the game and he supplied the perfect cut-out ball to Tuipulotu to score on debut and finally get the Tricolours on the board with 17 minutes to play.
Tuipulotu gets a try on debut
That ended up being the final scoring play of the match as the Roosters grimly defended their line from further damage with just one fit player on the bench.
The result moves Melbourne at least temporarily to first place on the Telstra Premiership ladder.