The Sydney Roosters have flexed their muscle with a powerful 24-2 victory over the Melbourne Storm in front of a brave 8,265 fans at Allianz Stadium.
On a freezing cold night the Roosters big men won the game in the middle, most notably the intimidating Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. As usual their star-studded backline made no mistake converting their chances, however it was unheralded utility Mitchell Aubusson who showed the most class out wide, providing two try assists while also scoring one himself.
Meanwhile the Storm seemed to have their timing off throughout the encounter, missing their dynamic leader-at-the-back Billy Slater, who was a late withdrawal with a shoulder complaint. Their forwards struggled to gain any ascendancy.
The first points came in the early minutes of the match as the Roosters capitalised on Mahe Fonua spilling a bomb. The mistake led to a quick movement on first tackle to the Roosters right side. Aubusson did very well to fend off Kurt Mann and make Marika Koroibete commit, before offloading perfectly to a wide open Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
The Roosters were in again in the seventh minute off the back of an unbelievable piece of play by brilliant fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He stepped explosively off his left to get back on the inside of a scrambling Storm defence before throwing a one-handed pass to an unmarked Daniel Tupou. Maloney's conversion was off from the sideline, leaving the score at 8-nil.
The Roosters continued to dominate, completing eight sets to Melbourne's two, and adding to their lead with a James Maloney penalty in front of the posts.
The Storm earned a penalty on halftime and Cam Smith added the two points to ensure Melbourne had something to show for a tough 40 minutes, 12-2 at halftime.
The Roosters added a further two points to open the second stanza after Hinchcliffe made a comical mistake attempting to play the ball. After being turned around and flipped in a tackle, Hinchcliffe played the ball facing the wrong way, earning a penalty and an outburst of laughter across the stadium.
Aubusson scored a well-deserved try in the 55th minute to hand the Tricolours a very handy buffer. He found space on the outside of the Storm defence before stepping inside Marika Koroibete. Maloney created the space for the star utility by running a wide line and getting on the outside of the scrambling Storm defence.
They would have success down the same side just minutes later as Koroibete rushed in on Aubusson who timed his pass out to Kenny-Dowall brilliantly to nab his second. That made the score 24-2, as it would remain at full-time. The Storm's final tally of two points was the lowest score they've put up since they were held to nil by the Cowboys off the back of Origin One last year.
Sydney Roosters 24 (Daniel Tupou, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall 2 tries; James Maloney 4 goals) defeated Melbourne Storm 2 (Cam Smith goal) at Allianz Stadium. Crowd: 8265