Storm v Roosters Review

Melbourne Storm 28 def Sydney Roosters 12

MELBOURNE proved that they are still among the teams to beat with a courageous 28-12 win over the Sydney Roosters at Gosford on Monday night.

While the Roosters are edging closer and closer to the foot of the NRL ladder, Melbourne managed to overcome a representative schedule that saw eight players backing up from Friday’s Test match and Country-City game to record their fifth win of the season.

It wasn’t easy though, with the Roosters starting strongly and posting an early try through Setamaita Sa, while referees Tony De Las Heras and Jason Robinson responded to criticism in recent days by blowing the pea out of the whistle.

Their frustration boiled over after just 10 minutes when De Las Heras sent Steve Turner to the sin bin for a professional foul and Willie Mason followed just 15 minutes later.

Surprisingly, the Roosters survived with 12 men on the field but it was two quick tries immediately after Mason’s return that turned the match in Melbourne’s favour.

With scores locked at 6-all, Turner finished off a sweeping backline move to cross out wide in the 26th minute before Ryan Hoffman barged his way over a minute before the break to give his side a 10-point lead.

Sam Perrett quickly reduced that gap straight after half-time with a clever try but the Storm were relentless and Jeff Lima eventually found his way across when he ran onto a Brett Finch inside ball on 57 minutes and burst through to score.

Finch then put the icing on the cake with a solo effort to score his first try in Melbourne colours with five minutes remaining to seal the result.

The Roosters now sit second-last, ahead of only Cronulla.

The Game Swung When… Ryan Hoffman crashed his way over in the 39th minute.

Although Steve Turner had given Melbourne the lead for the first time just three minutes earlier, the game had remained a tight contest until Hoffman’s try – far too easy given the messy play-the-ball that led to it – broke the game wide open.

From there the Roosters were always playing catch-up.

Who Was Hot… The Roosters’ forwards actually out-played their Melbourne rivals for much of the game, with Nate Myles particularly impressive and Willie Mason causing problems despite his sting in the sin-bin.

They lacked penetration however, with Melbourne proving far too good at the business end of the field with Cameron Smith and Brett Finch providing some class touches when it mattered most.

Who Was Not… Melbourne duo Brett White and Sika Manu seemed to struggle with the short turnaround from representative games on Friday night – making just 62 and 35 metres respectively.

But it was the Roosters’ backs that really battled, with playmakers Braith Anasta and Mitchell Pearce off their games.

Pearce was particularly quiet and will regret kicking out on the full in the first half in the lead-up to the play that saw Mason sin-binned.

Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… The sin-binnings of Turner and Mason seemed particularly harsh.

While much has been made in recent weeks of referees constantly warning players without ever taking action, the infringements in this case – both involving tackling a player without retreating the full 10 metres – seemed to jump the gun.

Roosters coach Brad Fittler was right in later acknowledging that something needed to be done but it was Melbourne’s Craig Bellamy that hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that 10 minutes on the sideline is a huge penalty for such a minor offence.

Injuries… James Aubusson (Roosters) – knee, two weeks.

Bad Boys… Brett Finch was placed on report after sliding in with his feet in a belated attempt to stop Sa grounding the ball for a try in the 12th minute. He was charged with dangerous contact by the NRL match review committee but will escape suspension with an early guilty plea.

Refs Watch… The Storm received the first penalty of the game, then the Roosters received five in a row, then Melbourne nine straight in another match that will be talked about more for the inconsistencies than the quality of football.

Time will tell whether the dismissal of Turner and Mason becomes a more regular occurrence in coming weeks.

NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Cameron Smith (Storm): Started from the bench but orchestrated the game to perfection once he came on as Melbourne wore their opponents down; 2 points – Nate Myles (Roosters): The best prop on the field, Myles ran for 160 metres, made 34 tackles and proved a constant menace to the Storm defensive line.

1 point – Cooper Cronk (Storm): Solid without being spectacular, his kicking game proved decisive as he produced 258 metres with the boot.

Storm 28 (B White, S Turner, R Hoffman, J Lima, B Finch tries; J Tomane 4 goals) def Roosters 12 (S Sa, S Perrett tries; C Fitzgibbon 2 goals) at Bluetongue Stadium. Crowd: 8412.