After a slow start to the year, the Sydney Roosters are peaking at the right time in 2018.
The addition of Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco took a while to take full effect but once the two star recruits settled into their new surrounds, the Roosters rose up the ladder to finish with the minor premiership.
They have been the form side over the second half of the season, along with Melbourne, so it is fitting they are the teams that will meet on Sunday to see who will lift the Telstra Premiership trophy.
NRL.com takes a look back at every game the Roosters played on the way to the big dance.
Round 1 - Tigers 10 defeated Roosters 8
The new era got off to a surprising start with the unheralded Wests Tigers causing a massive upset in the first week of the season. Spoiling the party of former Tiger James Tedesco – who was roundly booed by a partisan home crowd every time he touched the ball – the Roosters will be left to rue a questionable decision to level up at 2-all early in the second half rather than press their advantage against a 12-man defensive line following a Luke Brooks sin-binning.
Round 2 - Roosters 30 defeated Bulldogs 12
The Roosters broke their duck at Allianz Stadium. Despite 10 first-half errors and a man in the sin bin, they still led 18-0 at the break but they lost winger Daniel Tupou to a serious pectoral injury and Mitch Aubusson to a stomach churning head knock that required 12 stitches.
Round 3 - Roosters 38 defeated Knights 8
Cooper Cronk won the points battle against the man he replaced in the red, white and blue No.7 in Mitchell Pearce but it was Luke Keary – who has partnered both players in consecutive seasons – who truly lit up the match with some magic touches at Allianz.
Round 4 - Warriors 30 defeated Roosters 6
Trent Robinson denied was concerned with his team's diabolical completion rate, which stood at 25 per cent after 25 minutes before finishing at a meagre 59 per cent. After piling on 68 points in big wins over Canterbury and Newcastle, Robinson accused his side of expecting a similar roll-on to continue against the undefeated Warriors from the outset.
Round 5 - Roosters 28 defeated Sharks 10
Cronulla faced a supreme example of good game management by Roosters No.7 Cooper Cronk, in plotting the five tries to two victory. Second-rower Ryan Matterson was the star with a double in the 20th and 39th minutes – both off Cronk corner kicks.
Round 6 - Rabbitohs 26 defeated Roosters 14
South Sydney were laughing loudest in their age-old slanging match with the Roosters after a two-minute horror show from James Tedesco. The Rabbitohs prevailed 26-14 following a week of social media pot shots from both clubs. With scores locked up at 8-8 despite Souths dominating the first stanza, two critical mistakes from Tedesco on his own line put it on a platter for the Tricolours' oldest and closest rival.
Round 7 - Roosters 6 defeated Bulldogs 0
With rarely seen pluck and without inspirational skipper Jake Friend, the Roosters grinded their way to an absorbing 6-0 triumph over Canterbury at ANZ Stadium. A week after the Rabbitohs poured through their middle for fun, Trent Robinson's side somehow stole the show despite making an extra 104 tackles than the Bulldogs, who enjoyed a whopping 54 tackles inside the opposition 20-metre zone. They did so without co-captain Friend, who was concussed and out of the game and left needing stitches after an attempted tackle on childhood friend Moses Mbye.
Round 8 - Dragons 24 defeated Roosters 8
St George Illawarra were victorious in the traditional Anzac Day clash after the Referees' Bunker ruled winger Nene Macdonald kept fingertip control on the ball for a crucial try even though it appeared he lost control with his right hand just as his left hand rolled over the surface. The score was 18-8 in the Dragons favour but if the try had been disallowed - as most at the ground thought it would be - it would have given the Roosters a sniff of hope. Insitead the scoreboard drifted out to 24-8.
Round 9 - Roosters 22 defeated Sea Eagles 20
A stunning display of heavy hitting from Victor Radley – the smallest forward in the Roosters pack – spoiled one of the biggest boilovers of the season as a desperate Manly went down 22-20 at Allianz Stadium. Radley stole the show, turning his 92-kilo frame into a heat-seeking human missile, twice whacking Kiwi Marty Taupau with thundering shots on one of the Telstra Premiership's most fearsome enforcers.
Round 10 - Roosters 32 defeated Warriors 0
In their first trip away from Sydney this year, the Roosters ran in five tries to none to record their sixth win of the year in emphatic style. Led by strong performances from captain Boyd Cordner and Dylan Napa, in particular, the Roosters dominated physically on both sides of the ball and denied the Warriors any momentum through the middle third.
Round 11 - Broncos 28 defeated Roosters 22
It was a centre battle for the ages between Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night that stole the show in an extraordinary 28-22 win to the Brisbane Broncos. Roberts had the last laugh where it counts on the scoreboard when winger Jamayne Isaako broke a 22-all deadlock in the 78th minute with a scintillating 30-metre try. It was Roberts' 70-metre effort with seven minutes remaining to level the scores that evoked memories of Steve Renouf and will live long in the memory of all who saw it. And the man he left in his wake with pure speed was Mitchell.
Round 12 - Roosters 34 defeated Titans 14
Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell produced some worrying defensive lapses and a non-existent game in attack for just over 50 minutes before exploding through a 12-man Titans line in the second half and then getting himself sin-binned for goal-line infringements. Winger Blake Ferguson produced some characteristically strong carries but had a couple of clangers as well. Luke Keary had little impact on the game but both Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco were strong and involved, with the latter bagging a first-half try before splitting the Titans for a long-range try assists in the second.
Round 13 - Roosters 16 defeated Tigers 14
Blake Ferguson is refusing to sulk after losing his spot in the NSW Blues backline, helping the Sydney Roosters to a gripping 16-14 win over the Wests Tigers. The Roosters No.1's try-saving cover tackle on Wests Tigers centre Mahe Fonua sealed the deal for the home side. The Tigers clawed their way back from trailing 14-2 midway through the second half to rattle the Roosters 16-14 with just six minutes left, when Josh Reynolds scored a sneaky 74th minute try from dummy-half.
Round 14 - Roosters 18 defeated Knights 16
A double to in-form winger Blake Ferguson helped the Sydney Roosters to an 18-16 win over a brave Newcastle Knights outfit at McDonald Jones Stadium. Ferguson made it eight tries in 14 matches to be the leading tryscorer for the Roosters, who moved to 9-3 for the season. James Tedesco had seven tackle breaks and ran for 176 metres to take a points decision in his head-to-head battle with Knights excitement machine Kalyn Ponga.
Round 15 - Roosters 32 defeated Panthers 6
The Roosters sent a collective tremor through their NRL rivals with a 32-6 thumping of top-of-the-table Penrith in a contest that also spread carnage through both State of Origin camps. A spate of serious injuries to NSW Blues pair Latrell Mitchell [neck] and Reagan Campbell-Gillard [suspected broken jaw] and Maroons firebrand Dylan Napa [ankle] marred the marquee fixture.
Round 16 - Storm 9 defeated Roosters 8
Held at Adelaide Oval, the only meeting between the Storm and Roosters was a predictable arm-wrestle. It was 2-2 at half-time and wasn't decided until Cam Smith's clutch field goal two minutes from full-time. It was their third straight win and boosted their record to 10-5.
Round 17 - Bye
Round 18 - Roosters 20 defeated Titans 12
A depleted Sydney Roosters leapt into the top four with a 20-12 victory against a brave but error-riddled Gold Coast Titans but it came after one of most puzzling refereeing decisions of the season. Three Roosters youngsters – halfback Sean O'Sullivan, centre Paul Momirovski and forward Poasa Faamausili – scored in their NRL debut appearance. But the first-half four-pointer to O'Sullivan, standing in for Cooper Cronk, left spectators scratching their heads and Titans skipper Ryan James exasperated.
Round 19 - Roosters 56 defeated Sea Eagles 24
Trent Robinson's decision to rest his Origin stars the previous week looked to have paid dividends with a refreshed side in cruise control from the opening minutes. Rampant performances from Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco set up the win, while skipper Jake Friend was enormous in the opening half as the Tricolours ran in five tries in the opening 24 minutes en route to a 28-0 lead.
Round 20 - Roosters 36 defeated Dragons 18
Roosters fans left the Moore Park precinct very happy indeed. Before this round 20 match-up, the Roosters had not beaten a team in the top four, losing to the Rabbitohs in round six, the Dragons on Anzac Day and the Storm in round 16. A Latrell Michell hat-trick and James Tedesco brace gave the local fans their money's worth.
Round 21 - Roosters 26 defeated Cowboys 20
Some second-half Johnathan Thurston magic was not quite enough for his team to finish over the top of the Roosters in a thrilling clash at Allianz Stadium. Latrell Mitchell was again in irrepressible form, finishing with seven busts and a try, and Blake Ferguson produced one of his best matches of an impressive season with 238 metres, numerous tough carries and a try of his own.
Round 22 - Roosters 18 defeated Rabbitohs 14
With just three rounds remaining before the playoffs, the Bondi-based club put itself on track for a top-two finish and a home final after overcoming a lack of possession to down their arch rivals and the previous competition leaders for the 100th time before a crowd of 26,311 at ANZ Stadium. It was a win built on defence after the Roosters were forced to make 362 tackles to 311 by Souths and finished the match with just 45 per cent possession following their failure to complete 11 of 37 sets with the ball.
Round 23 - Raiders 14 defeated Roosters 12
The Sydney Roosters squandered a golden opportunity to stay at the top of the NRL ladder, going down 14-12 to the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium. The Roosters have not won in the national capital since 2010 and that hoodoo continued as a committed Raiders side notched its ninth win of the season. Coming off four straight losses the Raiders were given little hope of shutting down the potent Roosters, who entered round 23 on top of the table and in sight of a fourth minor premiership in six years.
Round 24 - Broncos 22 defeated Roosters 8
Brisbane continued the pattern of upsetting the rhythm of top-four teams with a courageous 22-8 win at Allianz Stadium after losing hooker Andrew McCullough in a head clash with Roosters hardman Dylan Napa. The sight of the 28-year-old convulsing on the ground after Napa had hit him flush on the jaw with his head was not a pretty one. It conjured up memories of Napa hitting Broncos forward Korbin Sims with his head and breaking the Brisbane forward's jaw at Suncorp Stadium in round 11.
Round 25 - Roosters 44 defeated Eels 10
A 12-minute hat-trick to Latrell Mitchell and rampant performances from James Tedesco and Joseph Manu helped the Sydney Roosters snatch the 2018 minor premiership with a 44-10 thumping of Parramatta at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. The Tricolours needed to win by 27 points or more to secure their fourth minor title in six years after Melbourne's loss to Penrith but their mission looked unlikely as the Eels went with the visitors for the opening 50 minutes.
Qualifying semi-final - Roosters 21 defeated Sharks 12
The Roosters' multimillion-dollar off-season outlay was just two games from delivering premiership paydirt, with Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco starring in a 21-12 triumph over heavyweights Cronulla. Against a battered and bruised Sharks line-up, Cronk sliced and diced the Shire men with his prize-winning boot, scoring a try and setting up another from kicks, and then nailing the field goal that doubled as the final nail in the Cronulla coffin.
Preliminary final - Roosters 12 defeated Rabbitohs 4
The Sydney Roosters have broken their preliminary final hoodoo and are on their way to next Sunday's grand final against Melbourne at ANZ Stadium, but they may be without chief playmaker and former Storm halfback Cooper Cronk. The three tries to none 12-4 win over arch rivals South Sydney had all the drama befitting the final game to be played at Allianz Stadium before the bulldozers move in. It was witnessed by the venue's largest crowd for a sporting event in 30 years – 44,380.
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