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Sydney Roosters 18 v Melbourne Storm 22
The Sydney Roosters have staged a remarkable comeback this afternoon, but it wasn?t quite enough to defeat the Melbourne Storm in a cliff-hanger today at Aussie Stadium, the Storm winning the match 22-18 on a warm Sydney afternoon.
Melbourne came firing off the blocks in the first half, and took a 16-0 lead into halftime, a lead which was almost extended right on the break with Storm winger Jake Webster failing to keep his feet in play, crashing over the sideline and the margin remained at 16 at the interval.
The Roosters then staged a remarkable second half fight-back. After trailing 22-0 midway through the half, the Roosters crossed for three converted tries in quick time, and were an Anthony Minichiello mistake away from claiming victory. The Australian fullback put a regulation pass to ground and granted the Storm a massive reprieve. Ball control was a problem for the Bondi club all afternoon, and in retrospect, the Roosters should have won this match according to the number of chances they squandered, in comparison to the end margin of just four points.
Melbourne went into their shells during the second half and were remarkably lucky to hang on after a scanty performance towards the end of the match. But otherwise the Storm were consummate in victory, with an excellent platform laid down by their forwards which enabled their skilled backline of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Jake Webster to wreak havoc on a shaky Roosters defensive line.
The Storm had to battle with 16 men for the majority of the match, former Rooster Michael Crocker was forced to leave the field in the 24th minute with a suspected nasal injury. This may have contributed to their lacklustre finish to the match.
The Roosters? performance was far inferior to that of last week?s effort against Souths, new buys Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison appeared to be non-existent out on the field today. Last year?s demons appear to have followed the Roosters into 2006, and they need to look at bringing Craig Wing into the starting side for Brett Finch, Finch seeming to hinder the Roosters attacking structure and is again trying to get too involved when players of far more quality, Anasta and Harrison, are virtual ghosts.
The one shining light for the Roosters today was Jamie Soward, and he appears to have a mortgage on the number seven jumper.
Matt King was earlier ruled out for Melbourne, causing concern for management who simply can?t afford to have him ruled out of action for a long period.
Sam Perrett was sent to the sin bin in just the 4th minute for the Roosters, but there were no reports to speak of from this game.
Melbourne have had a pleasing start to 2006 with two victories from two starts, both away from home. The Roosters have been very patchy and it looks as though the men from Bondi have some cobwebs to sweep out of the closet, similarly to last season after the loss of Brad Fittler.
Sydney Roosters: 18
Tries: Ryan Cross, Amos Roberts, Jamie Soward
Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon 3/3
Melbourne Storm: 22
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Greg Inglis, Steve Turner
Goals: Cameron Smith 3/4
Venue: Aussie Stadium
Referee: Tony Archer
Half time: Storm 16-0
0 min: NEWS Today sees a rejuvenated Sydney Roosters side minus the suspended Adrian Morley up against a much-improved Melbourne Storm outfit, minus Matt King, at Aussie Stadium on a hot March afternoon in Sydney.
Changes: Roosters: as-per-program
Storm: Steve Turner comes off the bench into the centres for the injured Matt King, Jamie Feeney comes into the side onto the interchange bench.
KICKOFF!, match underway at Aussie Stadium in Sydney
4 min: NEWS Sam Perret sent to the sin bin for a professional foul close to the Roosters line.
9 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Greg Inglis capitalises on a brilliant cross-field kick from Storm halfback Cooper Cronk, taking advantage of his superior height to Iosia Soliola.
14 min: NEWS Billy Slater denied a try by on-field officials, ruling to have attempted a double movement and is penalised accordingly. Meanwhile, Sam Perrett has returned from the sin bin.
20 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Melbourne have capitalised on a Roosters mistake from the play-the-ball, with Jake Webster moving the ball quickly to Steve Turner for a try in the corner.
28 min: NEWS The Roosters have an abysmal completion rate at the moment with no cohesion in their attack. Brett Finch is assuming a halfback-type role at the moment with Jamie Soward rarely getting his hands on the ball, and this appears to be affecting their overall structure.
34 min: NEWS NO TRY: Finch loses control of the ball over the line off a crafty Soward grubber kick.
36 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Soward makes a defensive error, sprinting out of the defensive line in an attempt to effect an intercept, the Cooper Cronk pass found the arms to a dashing Ryan Hoffman who subseqeuntly scores in the corner.
40 min: NEWS HALFTIME: A possible Jake Webster try is denied right on halftime, with the video referee referring the decision back to referee Tony Archer who in-turn ruled Webster's foot to be over the sideline when he had grounded the ball. Despite the disallowed try, the Storm still hold a commanding 16-point lead and the Roosters will need to improve thier completion rate remarkably in order to have any chance in the second half.
40 min: NEWS Michael Crocker has sustained a depressed nasal fracture and will be out for the rest of this match. The Storm will have to manage with 16 players.
Second half underway at Aussie Stadium in Sydney.
47 min: NEWS NO TRY: Cameron Smith ruled to have knocked the ball forward in the in-goal area off his own grubber kick by the video referee. Still the Storm leading 16-0 and in reasonable control of this match.
50 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Cooper Cronk races from a Storm scrum win to score a regulation try under the posts from just 10 metres out. The Storm now hold a commanding 22-0 lead and there's no way back for the Roosters now even with 30 minutes still remaining.
58 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Craig Fitzgibbon takes an intercept 30 metres out from his own line and links up with Jamie Soward, culminating in a length of the field try for the new and improved Roosters halfback.
62 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Looks as though I spoke too soon as Amos Roberts pounces on a cross-field kick from Jamie Soward, one which four Storm players made no attempt to catch, and grounds the ball for a try. Roosters making a comeback with ample time remaining for them to pull this one out of the fire.
70 min: NEWS Melbourne hanging on by the skin of their teeth at the moment, the Roosters are looking very dangerous with the likes of Anasta and Minichiello wreaking havoc.
74 min: NEWS The Roosters look to have blown their last opportunity to mount an unbelievable fightback with a Soward grubber going straight into the arms of Billy Slater. The Storm should hang on with the score still at 22-12.
77 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Ryan Cross scores under the posts after another break by Soward from the Roosters half, and we have a grandstand finish here. An incredible comeback from the Roosters and one last opportunity to complete what would be a remarkable comeback.
78 min: NEWS The Storm have kicked the ball out on the full from the restart. The Roosters will receive a penalty at the halfway line and now have a real opportunity to steal this one!
79 min: NEWS Minichiello's hands let him down yet again, putting the ball to ground and with just 40 seconds left that looks to be the ball game. The Storm look as though they will hang on, just.
F/T: NEWS After a nail-biting second half, the Melbourne Storm have hung on by a thread to defeat the Sydney Roosters by 22 points to 18 this afternoon at Aussie Stadium in Sydney. The Storm held the ascendancy for the whole of the first half and early in the second, but the Roosters were so close to pulling off one of the best comebacks in the modern era until Anthony Minichiello put the ball to ground with just seconds remaining, giving the Storm a much-needed reprieve and a satisfying win away from home.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Cameron Smith (Storm)
2 - Cooper Cronk (Storm)
1 - Jamie Soward (Roosters)