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The Sydney Roosters have stunned the NRL tonight, claiming arguably the biggest upset of the year, a victory over the Melbourne Storm 26-16 at a damp Sydney Football Stadium.
The damage was inflicted by a brash Roosters side all in the first half - the home team took a 20-4 lead by the end of the first stanza with plenty of exciting tries, the first coming through bullocking second-rower Anthony Tupou shortly after an early penalty goal. Further tries in the first half went to Ashley Harrison and John Williams, who made a herculean effort out wide to push his way over. Fitzgibbon's perfect kicking record helped them to be sixteen points up at the break.
Strangely no points came in the second half until late, starting with a penalty to Amos Roberts, then when John Williams managed to complete his double helping on the tryscoring tally, it took the home side to a 26-4 lead.
Two late tries went to the Storm to give us a much more respectable scoreline but serious questions must be asked of the competition leaders now. The questionable decision by coach Craig Bellamy to rest Ryan Hoffman and Matt Geyer will come under scrutiny and the Storm will be drilled at training in the lead-up to their clash with the Sharks next Monday in Round 21. The Roosters under Freddie continue their glorious run and will host the Warriors next week - and just two points from the eight we could see a late run from them also.
Match Details Round 20 :: July 27th, 2007 07:30 PM Venue: Sydney Football Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Halftime: Sydney Roosters 20-4 Crowd:
Sydney Roosters 26 Tries: Anthony Tupou, Ashley Harrison, John Williams (2) Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon (4/4), Amos Roberts (1/2) Melbourne Storm 16 Tries: Israel Folau, Cooper Cronk, James Aubusson Goals: Cameron Smith (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Craig Fitzgibbon 2 Points: Braith Anasta 1 Point: John Williams
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to the Sydney Football Stadium for tonights clash of two somewhat mismatched teams - the lower-placed Roosters, who are moving on up under the guidance of caretaker coach Brad Fittler, against the high-flying Storm, who've only dropped two games so far this year.
A small crowd on hand tonight as the rain falls on another cold Sydney night.
The Roosters, in their predominantly navy home jersey, will line up as per program. Melbourne, wearing their stark white away jersey, have rested Ryan Hoffman and Matt Geyer. Anthony Quinn moves to the centres, James Aubusson on to the bench. Hoffman will be replaced by Clint Newton, Garett Crossman moving onto the bench.
Kickoff a few minutes away.
0 min: We are underway, Melbourne first possession!
2 min: Slater (MEL) tries to milk a penalty by playing the ball on the Rooster defender's foot, and Hampstead won't have a bar of it, the Roosters earning a scrum for a knock on. They'll have the first attacking chance here the home side.
3 min: PENALTY GOAL Sydney Roosters A penalty on the fifth for the Roosters and they'll draw first blood against the competition leaders. Sydney Roosters 2-0
6 min: Another silly penalty by the Storm and the Roosters get another attacking chance. It's not successful but all the early momentum is with the home team.
8 min: INJURY Ben Cross (MEL) comes off second best after a headclash. Holding his head, he's escorted from the field. A lot of blood coming from the scalp. Garrett Crossman comes on as his replacement.
12 min: TRY Sydney Roosters The Roosters are really in the drivers seat and if they keep their form and continue to force mistakes from Melbourne, anything is possible. Tupou for the Roosters crosses out wide. Great conversion also from the captain. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 8-0
17 min: Previously injured front rower Ben Cross is getting bandaged up and appears primed for a return to the field. Roosters attack and defence still as sharp as it has been all game.
19 min: Almost a quarter of the game elapsed and the Storm finally on the attack. They earn a repeat set.
25 min: The Storm still remarkably with no answers in attack, the Roosters diffusing the latest rampage on the line. Penalties flying thick and fast here at the SFS as the Roosters now are piggy-backed upfield.
26 min: TRY Sydney Roosters This live updater is stunned. The Roosters plug away and after just one set a great ball from hooker Heath L'Estrange sees Ashley Harrison crash over beside the posts. Roosters up by 14 over the Melbourne Storm! Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 14-0
30 min: TRY Sydney Roosters An incredible try to the Sydney Roosters and I'm sure not even the most ardent Roosters fan would have thought this situation possible. John Williams beats a few Storm defenders and plants the ball. Roosters up by 20! Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 20-0
35 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Melbourne Storm try. Israel Folau appears to have grounded it... Decision pending.... TRY!
35 min: TRY Melbourne Storm The Storm finally strike back with a relatively lacklustre try to the winger Israel Folau in the corner, off a Roosters error. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Sydney Roosters 20-4
39 min: The Storm putting the pressure on just before halftime with the Roosters line holding them out. A penalty now and the Roosters will climb upfield and look for some last ditch points.
HALFTIME Sydney Roosters 20 Melbourne Storm 4 Possession has been 50-50 would you believe, but the Roosters have a massive 16-point lead. The Storm are shellshocked and very much looking out of sorts. They look to be missing the guidance of Matt Geyer and Ryan Hoffman (both rested tonight) and the Roosters are hitting their straps looking for their first hat-trick of wins in 2007. Brad Fittler would be gushing but for the fact there's 40 minutes remaining. Keep your eyes glued to find out whether or not the competition leaders can claw their way back over the rejuvenated Roosters.
41 min: Second half underway.
44 min: Exciting stuff from Melbourne early but the momentum shifts, two penalties and two blokes on report for the Storm now, and the Roosters to go on the attack. ON REPORT - Brett White (MEL) ON REPORT - Clint Newton (MEL)
48 min: The Aubusson brothers will come face to face - James for the Storm now taking the field while Mitch started in the centres for the Roosters.
51 min: The Roosters very solid still, showing they can match it with the best. Time slowly running out for the Storm. Wait on - The Storm are in! Or not, a forward pass from Inglis to Quinn and that's the end of that chapter. Time really going to get away from the Storm now.
55 min: A real chance for the Storm now, a drop out... but on tackle two Quinn is forced into touch. A very confident Roosters side here - if they keep playing this kind of footy, a spot in the eight isn't out of the question.
64 min: Sam Perrett drops it cold after a great pass from Anthony Tupou puts him in the clear within sight of the line. Just 15 remain now - can the Sydney Roosters hold on in an amazing upset?
66 min: PENALTY GOAL Sydney Roosters Another break with wing putting Mitch Aubusson in the clear. The Storm not onside on the next play after the earlier trysaving tackle. Roberts pots the two points in Fitzgibbon's absence. Sydney Roosters 22-4
71 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a Roosters try... Decision pending... TRY!
71 min: TRY Sydney Roosters The Roosters cap the night with a great try out wide as Williams claims a double. A dubious call given the put-down but the Roosters are given the green light. Woeful conversion attempt from Amos Roberts. Conversion attempt by Amos Roberts unsuccessful. Sydney Roosters 26-4
77 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Roosters hero Brad Fittler comes to the sideline now as the Storm earn a consolation try through Cooper Cronk. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Sydney Roosters 26-10
80 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Another late consolation try - to James Aubusson as the siren sounds and the Roosters will go out winners here by ten points. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Sydney Roosters 26-16
FULLTIME Sydney Roosters 26 Melbourne Storm 16 The Roosters have stunned the Storm tonight - although the scoreline was much closer than the game itself suggested.