Roosters into Grand Final

The Sydney Roosters booked their place in the National Rugby League Grand Final after a 10-point win over the Bulldogs at Aussie Stadium tonight.

The 2002 Premiers, on home territory, outgunned the Bulldogs early, maintaining a 10 point lead for most of the match after leading 16-0 at one stage in the first half.

Man of the Match Adrian Morley led the Roosters? defensive domination in a bruising clash of the forwards.

Roosters coach Ricky Stuart said he was impressed with his side?s attitude.

?They?re a team that you can never turn your back on,? he said.

?I think with that sort of attitude going into the sheds we are going to be tough going into the second half,? he said after the match.

?It was good preparation for next week.?

The Bulldogs struggled to match the Roosters physically, and were undisciplined conceding a 4-1 penalty count against them at one stage the first half.

Former South Sydney winger Chris Walker scored two tries; his second after a Bulldog?s charge-down gave Ryan Cross a line-break before passing to Walker on the burst who ran 40 metres to score.

Earlier, the Roosters opened their account with a penalty goal to second-rower Craig Fitzgibbon.

The Roosters dominated their opposition early with four-man gang tackles close to the Bulldog?s line.

Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello could have turned his side?s early domination into points after receiving a bat-back off a Roosters kick in the 4th minute.

But the Australian representative, in his 100th first-grade match, knocked the ball on with the try-line open and just metres away.

Likewise, Minichiello?s opposing number one, Luke Pattern, could have put his side in front early, but couldn?t handle an inside ball 10 metres out.

The Roosters compiled an early lead, with winger Shannon Hegarty completing an exciting attacking movement after an Adrian Morley half-break. Brad Fittler juggled a ball before passing to Chris Walker who in turn found Hegarty on his outside.

The Bulldogs had opportunities throughout the Roosters? domination, but bad luck and the Roosters? relentless physical presence hit them hard. Minichiello counter-punched Bulldog?s halfback Brent Sherwin?s attempted chip and chase, running 50 metres amongst Bulldog?s defenders that eventually led to a penalty goal kicked by Fitzgibbon.

The Bulldogs finally troubled the scorers when Mark O?Meley charged over with four minutes to go till halftime. The try came on the back of two consecutive penalties to the Bulldogs, giving the Bankstown-based club a sniff trailing 16-6 at halftime.

The second half saw two tries to Bulldog?s winger Matt Utai, but despite conversions from Hazem El Masri and an improved effort, it wasn?t enough to get close enough to the reigning premiers, the Roosters winning 28-18.

Bulldogs? halfback Brent Sherwin said his side could hold their heads up after a good effort. ?It gave us a bit of a boost scoring before halftime,? he said. ?We had to meet them at that intensity, the boys tried hard,? he said. ?It was a long road?we gave them a good run for the whole 80 minutes?we look forward to next year.?

The Roosters will meet the winner of tomorrow?s match, between the Penrith Panthers and the New Zealand Warriors in the Grand Final next Sunday.

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