Nelson Asofa-Solomona loves the chaos.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona loves the chaos.

Cronk’s emotional tribute after brutality

The Sydney Roosters will play the Canberra Raiders in the NRL Grand Final after a thrilling 14-6 victory over the Melbourne Storm at the SCG.

If there was any thought there would be any love lost between the two teams, it was extinguished in the time it took to kick off.

It was a match with the rivalry between Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk hanging over it but the in the end the Roosters star goes onto his ninth Grand Final.

While the result means Cronk's career lasts one more week, he paid special tribute to his former mentor Craig Bellamy.

He also shared a moment with Smith after playing plenty of games together.

"It's hard because I don't stand here today without the people at the Melbourne Storm," Cronk said.

"Craig's forefront of that, he's a guy I've played a lot of football for. It's really emotional sometimes coming up against your old team but in this game, you really have to put it to the side because there's always a chance of next week and you really have to ride the rollercoaster sometimes."

Cronk also linked with Cameron Smith at the end of the game for a hug that was a lot warmer than their recent on field meetings.

Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith
Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith

But the match was a brutal war between the league's pacesetters with several HIAs, a sickening knockout and a fight just 21 seconds into the game.

The game opened with the perfect tone setter for the battle that was to come with the Roosters' Siosiua Taukeiaho and the Storm's Nelson Asofa-Solomona both sin binned after a sensational scrap to start the game.

The incident came from Asofa-Solomona shoving Taukeiaho, with the Roosters hardman coming back swinging.

It was stunning that both were sin binned after the first tackle of the match 

It's a sensational start to the match with the big prize of a Grand Final on the line.

It means both sides are down to 12 men for the first 10 minutes.


Asked if Taukeiaho connected, Greg Alexander said on Fox League "I think he tried, I don't know if he did."

As both men went to cool down, Andrew Voss said "It's a sensation here at the SCG."

"It's crazy this game," Braith Anasta added.

"It's just raw aggression, this has been building all week," Kevin Walters said. "That's just a push in the face, I mean come on boys."


Two players were sin binned inside the first 21 seconds of the game in an insane start.
Two players were sin binned inside the first 21 seconds of the game in an insane start.


Anasta said it shouldn't be 10 in the bin but this is what the game has dictated.

Taukeiaho said he was glad none of his punches landed so that he'd be free to play next week.

It was the perfect appetiser for the biggest game of the year.





Latrell Mitchell then kicked the goal to give the Roosters a 2-0 lead.

But it wasn't over as the teams fought a war of attritition as the defences came to the fore.

The Roosters held an 8-0 lead at the break after a huge try to Boyd Cordner off a Daniel Tupou leap.

A fiery clash between Luke Keary and Felise Kaufusi has fired up the crowd as well after the Roosters five-eighth was palmed off by the Storm firebrand and grabbed a huge tuft of his hair before coming back in over the top.



While there was only a penalty on the field, Kaufusi went from the field for a head injury assessment (HIA), which he failed.

The commentators said it was "very smart" as the Storm got a free interchange.


But it will see Keary facing a nervous wait for the match review committee.

Post match, he said "I didn't mean to hit him in the head" and pleaded for leniency to play in the Grand Final.

The Storm hit back early in the second through Asofa-Solomona scoring a try to make it a two point game as the match appeared to be heading for a thriller.

Enterprising play from both sides was no match as the game headed down to the wire but the Roosters finally got across through James Tedesco, with a double blow meaning the Storm were running out of troops.

Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen had a hige game, running 222m before leaving covered in blood after Tedesco's try.

The 21-year-old fullback was coming across in defence and his chin hit the head of Kenny Bromwich, knocking the youngster out and leaving him on the turf.

It was enough for the Roosters to book their place in the Grand Final against the Raiders.


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