FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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The Roosters, who were missing regular captain Craig Fitzgibbon for this clash, began the match looking ready for a tough encounter but were caught out by a Storm side who decided to forego the traditional bash-up-the-middle approach and spun the ball wide early. A 7th-minute opening try to winger Anthony Quinn came against the run of play, but his second try 10 minutes later laid the platform for a dominating first half by the defending champs.
Both teams had injury concerns early on, with Ryan Hoffman (Storm) and James Aubusson (Roosters) leaving the match within the first quarter. The loss of Aubusson was tough on the Roosters, forcing halfback Mitchell Pearce into dummy-half for much of the game, and consequently affecting their attack. There were no such concerns for the Storm though, as Cameron Smith claimed a try and a penalty goal to take his team into halftime with a commanding 20-0 lead.
The second half was affected by heavy rain which contributed to plenty of handling errors by both sides. Amos Roberts and Steve Turner both had tries denied thanks to forward passes before Mitchell Aubusson slid across for a consolation Rooster try late in the match, which many thought would be the closing play - but nobody told the Storm. Two slashing tries to Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater within the final 3 minutes reminded us all that they