25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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Unbeaten in its previous four encounters at home this season, Melbourne had high hopes of keeping its perfect record intact as it hosted the reigning premier.
But a momentary lapse in concentration just prior to and after half time meant the home team wouldn?t better its current standing on the NRL ladder.
Ahead 12-2 with only seconds remaining until the main break the Storm faltered in defence as Roosters? replacement Chris Flannery screamed on to a Brad Fittler ball to score under the posts and kick start the visitor?s afternoon.
It was Flannery again who caused the Storm further headaches minutes into the second half when he broke the line to allow second-rower Craig Fitzgibbon to score. Fitzgibbon converted to put the Roosters ahead 14-12.
Coach Craig Bellamy pinpointed the two episodes as the beginning of Storm?s demise.
?We seemed to freeze a bit just before half time,? Bellamy said.
?We were more than competitive prior to that ? we looked good. It?s disappointing to be right in it for 35 minutes then lose the plot.?
Roosters? Coach Ricky Stuart echoed Bellamy?s words.
?The try just prior to half time was crucial,? he said.
?They probably would have gone in with more of a buzz prior to the try.?
It was the Roosters who posted the first points of the match following a penalty for a high tackle against Storm captain Stephen Kearney. Fitzgibbon converted the easy opportunity to put his team up 2-0.
Kearney made up for his misdemeanour shortly afterwards when he slipped a beautifully timed off-load to Kirk Reynoldson who linked up with Marcus Bai. Classy centre Steven Bell finished off the play to cross for the Storm?s first points.
Matt Orford?s successful conversion gave him 500 first grade points and the Storm a 6-2 lead.
Jubilation quickly turned to despair when fullback Billy Slater was on the receiving end of a sickening blow from the Roosters? return kick off. The exciting teenager recovered but looked to be feeling the effects for the remainder of the afternoon.
He was again brought to his knees 12 minutes from full time when Roosters centre Justin Hodges took him across the head with a reckless flying arm - earning the Queensland centre an appointment with the NRL judiciary later in the week.
The Roosters hit back shortly after when hooker Craig Wing carried no less than six Storm defenders with him to plant the ball in goal.
Fitzgibbon crossed again to take the Roosters to a handy 26-14 lead.
Bell crossed for his second following a brilliant solo effort but Roosters skipper Brad Fittler allayed any ideas of taking the game to extra time with a field goal in the final minute, handing his team a 27-20 victory.
DETAILS: STORM 20 Tries: Bell 2, Orford 1 Goals: Orford 4/4
ROOSTERS 27 Tries: Flannery 1, Fitzgibbon 2, Wing 1 Goals: Fitzgibbon 5/5, Fittler 1 fld gl
For further information contact:
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]