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Rampant Roosters smash depleted Storm

If NRL pundits had doubts whether the reigning premiers were back to their best their performance on Sunday afternoon should put those to rest.

The Sydney Roosters made it six wins from seven games as they defeated Melbourne 32-12 with a polished performance in front of 16,757 fans at AAMI Park.

A 16-0 first-half display set up the win for Trent Robinson’s side, who now move into fourth spot on the NRL ladder.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck again led the way with 199 metres and a try, as eight Roosters recorded more than 100 metres for the game.

This was a Roosters team that was in form and took just seven minutes to prove it. In the blink of an eye the visitors swung the ball to the right, leaving the Storm line nowhere to be found as captain Anthony Minichiello capped of the clinical move with his eighth try of the season.

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The opening 20 minutes established the dominant Roosters performance. The visitors averaged 56 metres in their first seven sets as they enjoyed 60 per cent of possession in that opening period, forcing the Storm to make 89 tackles.

In the 21st minute the feeling in this game turned to one of animosity courtesy of a Jared Waerea-Hargreaves high tackle on Bryan Norrie, which saw the Kiwi enforcer laced on report.

An all-in tussle ensued, with Frank-Paul Nuuausala sent to the sin bin for a late hit on Norrie and the veteran Storm prop following him down the tunnel for remonstrating.

With both teams down to 12, an otherwise defensive-minded game threatened to open up and 25 minutes in the Roosters line almost did.

A turnover by the Roosters in their own 20 saw Cameron Smith direct play to the right.  Sisa Waqa’s pass to Kurt Mann was followed by a brilliant solo effort by the youngster to cross the line.

The Storm crowd rose to their feet, clapped, cheered and lost their minds, but only briefly went crazy as Waqa’s pass was deemed forward.

The blow was to be a double three minutes later. Waqa fumbled a very makeable highball just 10 metres from his own line, forcing groans of despair around AAMI Park and confirming doubts over Melbourne’s ability to cope with bombs in Slater’s absence.

It was the first error of the game for the Storm but that was all the reigning premiers needed to make them pay. James Maloney played the easiest of balls to Mitchell Pearce who strolled through the heart of the purple line and with the conversion had the visitors out to a 10-nil lead.

This Sunday afternoon was turning into one to remember for the travelling Roosters fans.

In the 38th minute Sonny-Bill Williams played a beautiful flick pass to Tuivasa-Sheck down the right to take possession up to the 10-metre line. On the ensuing play the ball ended up in the hands of Reni Casty who steamrolled the younger Ben Hampton for his first try in the NRL.

In the blink of an eye the Roosters went into the half-time break 16-0 to the good, as a sense of déjà-vu started to seep through the home crowd.

That feeling did not get much better after the break, as just six minutes after the restart young Storm prop Mitch Garbutt left the field in the hands of the trainers with a suspected knee injury after clambering into teammate George Rose.

However, the Storm did emerge from the tunnel with a renewed spirit and in the 49 minute they had their first try in more than 120 minutes of football.

A bullet pass by Smith to Ben Roberts from dummy half was flicked on to Fonua who announced his return to the Storm side to trim the margin to 10.

But while the home side broke the drought at one end it could not stop the downpour at the other.

Three minutes later the Roosters were back out to a 14-point lead thanks to some fancy Tuivasa-Sheck footwork. One out with Fonua down the touchline, the scintillating winger sidestepped his opponent to stretch for the line and his side’s fourth try of the game.

Sonny-Bill Williams soon joined the party as well, blowing the lead out to 20 points as he sidestepped the Storm line with the help of yet another Maloney assist.

After having a first-half try taken off him, Mann got his reward for an impressive fullback display in the 68th minute.
A Roberts offload feel into the hands of the 21-year-old who seized the opportunity to cross for the second time this season.

But this was to be the Roosters day with Minichiello fittingly laying the icing on the cake in the final minute with his second of the afternoon.

The Roosters will host the Knights next Saturday night while the Storm travel north for the second time in three weeks to play the Titans.

Sydney Roosters 32 (Minichiello 2, Pearce, Casty, Tuivasa-Sheck, Williams tries; Maloney 4 goals) defeated Melbourne Storm 12 (Fonua, Mann tries; Smith 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Crowd: 16,757.
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