The Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm scored contrasting victories in their respective NRL second round matches last night.
In the first match of the evening, the Roosters fended off a late Warriors comeback to win their first match of the season, a 16-14 success, at Eden Park in Auckland.
The fact that Sonny Bill Williams would be playing his first NRL match in New Zealand since making his impressive comeback last weekend, and that James Maloney would be facing the club he left last season, added some extra spice to this match.
But the Roosters didn’t seem to mind and they remained focused on the task to win their first match of what is expected to be a big season for them.
Anthony Minichiello posted the first try of the match for the Roosters in just the fifth minute, and it would appear that the Warriors would not learn from last week’s woeful loss to Parramatta early on. But, to their credit, they would hang tough and that would be the only scoring act of the first half.
Two tries in four minutes after half-time put the Roosters ahead 16-0 before anyone could take back their seats following the break.
Mitch Aubusson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored to put the Roosters in that winning position, but that would spark a Warriors revival in which they would score their three tries in 24 minutes – first to Shaun Johnson in the 51st minute, Pita Godinet in the 59th and Bill Tupou with five minutes remaining. Johnson’s kicking was off-target as he could only convert Godinet’s try.
Again, Sonny Bill Williams was solid and showed glimpses of his best as he offloaded to Michael Jennings for what appeared to be the match winning try close to full-time. But Jennings couldn’t ground the ball and the try was dismissed.
Although the Warriors lost at their “second home” again, the 32,740 fans who turned up were treated to a beauty from SBW. They may be disappointed that the Warriors lost, but at least happy that they finally got to see SBW back to his best.
The Roosters should consider themselves lucky to have won tonight, given they were 16-0 ahead by the 50th minute but coughed up three tries to reduce the margin of victory to 16-14. The Warriors responded well to last week’s thrashing by Parramatta, but they left their run too late and the scoreless first half cost them.
Next week, the Roosters are at home to Brisbane while the Warriors’ search for a first victory under Matthew Elliott continues against the Cronulla Sharks in Sydney.
In tonight’s other game, the Melbourne Storm passed its third Test playing in different conditions with a convincing 32-10 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
Melbourne picked up where they left off last week, scoring through Ryan Hinchcliffe after just three minutes. Cameron Smith was successful with the conversion and the Storm led 6-0 after five minutes.
Kane Linnett would respond for the Cowboys six minutes later, and Johnathan Thurston’s successful conversion saw the scores locked at 6-all, but that would be the Cowboys’ only scoring act for the next hour.
Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers scored in the ten minutes leading up to half-time, to blow the score out to 16-6 at half-time.
Cronk got his second try nine minutes after resuming, following which Siosaia Vave was booked for a crusher tackle on Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott. The score was now 20-6, but the Cowboys would not give up without a fight.
Ashley Graham scored with nine minutes left to give the Cowboys some faint hope, but Thurston’s unsuccessful conversion saw the Cowboys only reduce the margin to 20-10.
Chambers and Ryan Hoffman scored tries in the last five minutes to give the match its final scoreline of 32-10. Another impressive victory over the Melbourne Storm, who now return home next week for the Thursday night grand final rematch against the Bulldogs. As for the Cowboys, there is some soul searching to do before they face up to the Knights in Newcastle next Monday night.
The match was very entertaining and Melbourne’s victory shows tonight that they are a side not to be messed around with. The Cowboys’ performance does not indicate the nature of the scoreline, though they could do better in their next match against the Knights, who are still to play tomorrow.
I was correct with my predictions for both matches this evening, giving me 2/4 for the round so far with four more matches still to play.