Storm Blown Away By Roosters In NRL Preliminary Final
They've done it again. Reigning NRL premiers the Sydney Roosters are into another grand final.
It was as tight and tense and you'd expect in a meeting between the NRL's perennial powerhouses -- the Roosters and the Storm -- in the NRL Preliminary Final at the SCG.
But in the end, the Roosters prevailed 14-6, meaning they'll play the Raiders in next Sunday's NRL Grand Final, as they attempt to be the first team to win back-to-back rugby league premierships since the Broncos in 1992-93.
It wasn't a big margin. But it was pretty decisive. The Roosters just always seemed to have their opponents at arm's length.
The match had a fiery opening, with props from each side -- the Storm's Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Rooster Siosiua Taukeiaho -- sin-binned for fighting.
The Roosters got the penalty, taking an early 2-0 lead, and had the better of the first half, leading 8-0 at the break thanks to the acrobatics of Daniel Tupou.
The Storm had to score first in the second half against the team with the league's second best defense, and they did.
There was a huge moment about 16 minutes into the second half, when it looked like the Roosters had crossed after Joey Manu wrestled a contested ball out of Storm playmaker Cameron Munster's hands, but the refs spotted a tiny Roosters knock-on.
The Storm could breathe. They were still in it.
And they nearly scored shortly afterwards. But then a try to James Tedesco put the Roosters eight points clear, and they maintained their margin until the final siren.
"We tried to replicate what we did last week against Parramatta, but [it was] a step up in class this week against the Roosters obviously," Storm captain Cameron Smith said.
"We were slightly off and you can't afford to be slightly off at this level."
That was the story of this game. Overall, the Roosters were slightly the better team in this arm-wrestle of a game, and deserved their win.
For the Storm -- who were runaway minor premiers this year, three games clear of the second-placed Roosters -- this will be a bitter loss. They had such a dominant season, but went off the boil a little at the wrong time.
In sport, like life, it's often all about the timing.
The big question now is whether Cam Smith plays on. The 414-gamer wouldn't commit one way or another after the game, saying only that he'd think about it.