With the finals just a fortnight away the Sydney Roosters made a huge statement with a dramatic 18-14 win over the Storm at AAMI Park on Friday night.
The Roosters have now won seven on the trot after they dug deep to hold out a late charge from the Storm.
After the Roosters opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a Sam Walker penalty goal the Storm looked to have grabbed the first try of the night through Justin Olam but replays showed the centre had failed to ground the ball as he chased through a Harry Grant grubber.
The Roosters extended their lead in the eighth minute when Luke Keary took the ball to the line and found Drew Hutchison who sent Daniel Tupou over in the corner with a nice catch-and-pass.
Come the 19th minute and the Roosters went to a 14-0 lead after a superb team try was finished off by Joey Manu.
Tupou opens the scoring
Emotions then spilled over as rival big men Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves came to grips on a couple of occasions and the Roosters enforcer finished up in the sin bin with 17 minutes to go in the half.
With time running out on the one-man advantage the Storm conjured a try on the right edge when Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Felise Kaufusi and Marion Seve combined to send Xavier Coates in the corner.
A penalty against Siosiua Taukeiaho for a high tackle on the stroke of half-time gave Nick Meaney the chance to close the gap to 14-8.
Things are heating up in Melbourne
The Roosters struck the first blow of the second half when Joseph Suaalii surged onto an Angus Crichton pass from close range and showed enormous strength to get the ball down for his 15th try of the season to make it 18-8.
A dropped ball by Manu with 18 minutes to play gave Melbourne a chance to hit back but a forward pass by Meaney released the pressure.
Just minutes later Meaney made amends when he took a flick pass from Kenny Bromwich and burrowed over for a try to close the gap to four points.
With eight minutes to play the Roosters lost Victor Radley to a concussion and the Storm mounted raid after raid before Kenny Bromwich got over the line and was held up in desperate defence by Nat Butcher and James Tedesco.
Tedesco then came up with another huge play as he cleaned up a loose ball on his own line after Suaalii had lost it backwards and the Roosters hung on.
- Storm prop Jesse Bromwich left the field in the 17th minute for a HIA which he passed.
- Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was placed on report and sin binned in the 24th minute after a flare-up involving Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
- The Storm made seven errors inside the first 30 minutes to hand the Roosters control of the contest.
- Storm winger Xavier Coates has scored 10 tries in nine games at AAMI Park.
- Roosters prop Lindsay Collins went on report in the 76th minute for a potential hip drop tackle on Tom Eisenhuth.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves binned
- Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was put on report for a second time in the 51st minute for high contact on Justin Olam.
- Joey Manu was as dangerous as ever for the Roosters with 165 running metres and nine tackle breaks.
- Roosters second-rower Nat Butcher made his 100th NRL appearance.
- Only one Storm forward made more than 100 metres for the night - Kenny Bromwich with 101 metres.
- Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes broke nine tackles and made 147 metres from 15 runs.
Match: Storm v Roosters
Round 24 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Play of the Game
Team tries don't come any better than the one the Roosters produced in the 19th minute of an enthralling first half at AAMI Park. Making the ball sing from one side of the field to the other the Roosters' big guns all got involved as Matt Lodge's miracle offload found Sam Verrills who linked with Sam Walker who found Angus Crichton. The back-rower got a great ball away to James Tedesco who got it to Victor Radley and on to Luke Keary who looked up and saw Storm winger David Nofoaluma had come well infield so he put in a pinpoint kick to the corner which Joey Manu gathered to score.
What. A. Try!
What They Said
"We were physical tonight, we wanted to take it to them, we did that and then we were a bit scrappy on the back end of it, obviously when we had enough opportunies and it ended up being quite a scrappy game but it turned into a different style of game. It turned into a dogfight and we had to play that way. The defensive effort there is really important to us. You end up having to defend a lot like we did on our tryline and we held our hands up really well for most of the game and that was really pleasing. It's not always pretty but you have to be desperate and you have to come up to trysavers to win big games." - Roosters coach Trent Robinson
Roosters: Round 24
"We knew the Roosters would come out and start hard and fast. They did that last time against us up in Sydney as well. We did have a bit of emotion before the game but that's no excuse for our poor start, that should probably give us a bit of energy. I thought we were just a bit off for the first 20 minutes, we defended far too much and that took a lot of juice out of the tank. It was very intense, a bit of finals footy come early." - Storm captain Jesse Bromwich
Storm: Round 24
The Storm kick off the final round of the season on Thursday with a blockbuster clash against the Eels at CommBank Stadium. They will then have a minimum seven days' rest before playing their first final.
The Roosters and arch-rivals the Rabbitohs christen the new Allianz Stadium in Round 25 in a match-up that could well be repeated a week later when the finals commence. Victor Radley (concussion) and Daniel Tupou (groin) will be monitored but could struggle to get up for the clash.