Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
It was a first half packed with defence and far too many handling errors. The Roosters were first on the scoreboard when Michael Jennings broke away down the left sideline. The ball found its way through several hands before Anthony Minichiello tip-toed down the sideline and defied the defence to score in the corner. James Maloney's pinpoint sideline kick gave the visiting side a 6-0 lead.
The remainder of the half was littered with errors - particularly from the home side - and packed with solid defence. Neither side looked terribly threatening near the opposition line, and when each side did get near the chalk, the ball often went to ground. This was best evidenced by a personal worst 3 unforced errors from Warriors skipper Simon Mannering.
A bustling ten minutes post-halftime saw the match turned on it's head, with the Roosters scoring back to back tries through Mitchell Aubusson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Both were easy pickings for the visitors, with holes opening up in the Warriors' defence and both players sliding through them for their respective points.
At 16-0, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Warriors would give up, especially on recent form. It wasn't to be though, with the momentum swinging dramatically in the hosts' favour. Against the run of play Shaun Johnson found space from his own 20m line and sprinted the best part of 80 metres to score his sides first try. Several minutes later Pita Godinet took advantage of repeat sets for the Warriors, which allowed the home side to come within six points.
The final ten minutes became tense with both sides squandering further scoring opportunities, until the 75th minute when Bill Tupou dodged several Roosters to pounce on a Shaun Johnson grubber and reduce the deficit to just two points. An atrocious conversion attempt from Shaun Johnson was waved wide and meant the Warriors would continue to chase the lead - however the Roosters hung in there to record a two-point victory and earn their first "W" of the season.
Next week the Roosters are back home at the Sydney Football Stadium (Allianz Stadium) to host the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday, while the Warriors also jet across the Tasman to face the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Endeavour Field (Sharks Stadium) on Sunday afternoon.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 16 (Anthony Minichiello, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall tries; James Maloney 2/3 goals) defeated NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 14 (Shaun Johnson, Pita Godinet, Bill Tupou tries; Shaun Johnson 1/3 goals) at Eden Park Auckland. Halftime: Roosters 6-0. Crowd: 32,740. Referees: Ashley Klein and Phil Haines.