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Not even rain and hail could ruin 'Freddy' Fittler's parade as the Sydney Roosters convincingly defeated the Parramatta Eels 48-10 at Aussie Stadium today. The Roosters moving up to top spot on the NRL ladder and claiming the minor premiership for the first time since 1981.
With dark clouds looming over Aussie Stadium, the Roosters dominated play, the Eels being kept in the match largely thanks to desperate defence from back rower Nathan Hindmarsh.
But with Brett Finch and Anthony Minnichiello finding room both sides of the ruck, the Roosters took control to post a handy 20-6 half time lead.
The second half saw the heavens open up with rain giving way to hail, the players having to contend with being pounded by hail stones and ice on the pitch. The Roosters however were all smiles, handling the conditions perfectly with Craig Wing bagging a hat trick of tries.
The weather didn?t dampen the post-match celebration as the Roosters accepted the JJ Giltinan Shield and can now focus on the finals series ahead. The importance of the matches ahead not being lost on champion five eighth and skipper Brad Fittler as he received the perfect home send-off.
Aussie Stadium Referee: Stephen Clark
ROOSTERS 48 Tries: Wing 3, Walker, Crocker, Cross, Catic, Minichiello, Hegarty Goals: Fitzgibbon 3/5, Walker 3/4 defeated EELS 10 Tries: O'Dwyer, Peterson Goals: Witt 1/2
By the clock: The Roosters need to win this match in order to finish the season as minor premiers. Luke O'Dwyer comes into the Eels side for centre Junior Langi.
0 min: Eels kick off
4 min: Try ? Wing (Roosters). Brad Fittler sets Craig Wing through an inside pass putting him into space; he has to much pace for the Eels fullback and scores near the corner. Craig Fitzgibbons conversion attempt is successful. 6-0 Roosters
8 min: Eels hooker Lee Hopkins is knocked out after copping an accidental elbow from a team mate.
11 min: Try ? O?Dwyer (Eels). Michael Witt puts up a cross field bomb; Ashley Graham contesting the ball in the air knocks it back into the hands of Corey Pearson who then finds an unmarked Luke O?Dwyer on the flank to stroll in for an easy try. Michael Witt?s conversion attempt is successful. 6-6
20 min: News ? The Roosters are making plenty of line breaks but the Eels scrambling defence has been more than up to the task so far.
25 min: Walker (Roosters). A fatal error by Matt Peterson has given Chris Walker a try. Brad Fittler put a grubber kick into the in goal; Peterson knocks it on and gives Walker an easy try. Fitzgibbon is unable to convert. 10-6 Roosters
28 min: Crocker (Roosters). Michael Crocker 10 metres out shrugs off some weak Eels defence to stroll in for another try. Fitzgibbon converts. 16-6 Roosters
37 min: Try ? Cross (Roosters). The amount of territory and possession is taking its toll on the Eels and its showing Ryan Cross scores an easy try taking the ball from 10 metres out. Fitzgibbon unable to convert. 20-6 Roosters
37 min: News ? The Roosters are denied a try after Minichiello going after a bomb was deemed by the video referee to have played at the ball which then bounced up perfectly for Craig Fitzgibbon.
Half Time I?d be surprised if the Eels can even stay in touch after an excellent first 20 minutes. They're giving away far too many penalties and territory giving the Roosters side the upper hand who look dangerous in attack and stinging in defence.
Half Time Stats Possession: Roosters 54% - Eels 46% Mistackles: Roosters 8 ? Eels 25 Roosters are leading at the break by 20 to 6.
40 min: Roosters kick off
48 min: Try ? Wing (Roosters). A decoy runner puts Chris Flannery into space who then passes it off to Minichiello; Minichiello gets ankle tapped but gets back up and runs several metres across the field before passing it off to Craig Wing who runs onto the ball at speed to score. Fitzgibbon converts. 26-6 Roosters
50 min: Try ? Wing (Roosters). Craig Wing slices through a hole in the middle of the defensive line to score a hatrick of tries. Chris Walker's conversion attempt is unsuccessful. 30-6 Roosters
55 min: News ? Rain is starting to fall.
59 min: Try ? Catic (Roosters). Chris Walker breaks the line; he sets up Ned Catic for an easy stroll to the try line. Walker converts. 36-6 Roosters
65 min: News ? Parramatta are well and truly off their feet in this encounter. Heavy rain won?t help the Eels much as the Roosters continue to make line breaks and cover up in defence.
69 min: News ? Kick off restart goes out on the fall.
70 min: News ? Anthony Minichiello losses the ball over the try line.
75 min: Try ? Hegarty (Roosters). Chris Flannery grubbers it, Shannon Hegarty picks up the bounce and scores. Walker?s conversion attempt is successful. 48-6 Roosters
79 min: Try ? Peterson (Eels). Parramatta spread it wide an cause an overlap resulting in Matt Peterson scoring in the corner. Witt?s conversion attempt is unsuccessful. 48-10 Roosters
Full Time Brad Fittler's farewelled in style in a completely dominating performance by the Roosters. They continually broke the line and covered up well in defence. Roosters claim the minor premiership and confirm their status as one of the favourites for the trophy. The Roosters accept the JJ Gilitinan Shield, now awarded to minor premiers. They also receive a handy prize of $100,000 from the League.
Full time score: 48-6 Roosters.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Finch (Roosters) 2 - A Minichiello (Roosters) 1 - N Hindmarsh (Eels) -----------------------------------------