A desperate Sydney Roosters have held off a fast-finishing Melbourne Storm to win 18-14 tonight at AAMI Park and book their place in this year's finals series.
With the match in the balance, Roosters skipper James Tedesco managed to save his side with a desperate last-ditch attempt to hold up Storm backrower Kenny Bromwich with minutes remaining. It proved a decisive play as his troops rallied late to hold on for victory in a brave performance from Trent Robinson's men.
The win was soured somewhat with Roosters prop Lindsay Collins put on report for a hip drop tackle and lock Victor Radley was severely concussed and will unlikely line up for the club next week.
It was a high octane and at times fiery clash, and for the fans it was a perfect dress rehearsal for this year's final series. The game saw a number of players placed on report and highlighted by a running battle between Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Storm behemoth Nelson Asofa-Solomona who had made a beeline for one another on numerous occasions.
It was a nervous start for the men in purple, when an early error saw the visitors on the attack. Storm prop Asofa-Solomona was then penalised for an illegal strip. Roosters' half Sam Walker took the two points on offer to get the Roosters on the board early with a penalty goal.
Melbourne looked to have hit back when Harry Grant placed a deft kick behind the line for his centre Justin Olam, however replays showed Olam did not ground the ball and Sydney survived an early scare.
The Tricolours then marched straight up the other end of the field and thanks to some quick hands from Luke Keary and Drew Hutchison on the left-hand side, winger Daniel Tupou scampered over in the corner to score the first try of the night.
The Roosters scored their second try after Luke Keary showed great vision to kick for an unmarked Joseph Manu who strolled over for the try and following the conversion from Walker it was 14-0 after 20 minutes.
Tempers began to flair between both firebrands in Waerea-Hargreaves and Asofa-Solomona and upon a warning from the referee, Waerea-Hargreaves was sent to the Sin Bin for a high tackle on his opposite number and for instigating a melee.
After numerous chances, Melbourne finally managed to take advantage of the extra man as Marion Seve delivered a nice pass for Xavier Coates to score in the corner and Nick Meaney nailed the conversion to narrow the Roosters lead to 14-6 as halftime approached.
On the cusp of halftime Roosters interchange forward Siosiua Taukeiaho was penalised in front of the posts for a high tackle and Melbourne elected to take the gift two points as Meaney knocked over the penalty goal to narrow the Roosters lead to 14-8 at the break.
The arm wrestle continued in the second half but it was the Roosters who struck first, after Tedesco and Angus Crichton combined for young winger Joseph Suaali'i to steamroll his way over in the corner. Walker missed from out wide and it was 18-8 with a quarter of the match remaining.
Melbourne then finally hit back when fullback Nick Meaney dived over to score after collecting a neat offload from Kenny Bromwich close to the line. Meaney converted his own try and which narrowed the score to 18-14 for the Roosters.
Despite Melbourne having plenty of chances to win the game, the Roosters showed enough desperation with clutch defensive plays from Tedesco and Joey Manu in the dying minutes saving the Roosters from a sudden death scenario against their bitter rivals South Sydney next week.
Melbourne now travels to Sydney to face Parramatta next Thursday night, where they will be desperate to lock up a Top 4 position. This game will be followed on Friday night where the Roosters and Rabbitohs open the brand-new Allianz Stadium on Friday night.