The Minor Premiers Sydney Roosters have become the 2018 Telstra NRL Premiership winners, after claiming an imperious victory 21-6 over the Melbourne Storm on Sunday.
In a display that was against the form and some oddsmakers predictions, the New South Wales side were able to deny the all-powerful Victorian side quality possession, and importantly, much confidence. The ball favoured the ‘home side’ in most areas of the game.
But most importantly, and tellingly, embattled Cooper Cronk lifted himself off the medic’s table, to play an instrumental role in the popular victory.
— FOX SPORTS NRL (@FOXNRLLive) September 30, 2018
In a match that seemed to be all one way in the opening half, it was a surprise not to see a fightback from the Melbourne Storm. With their impressive Finals experience, one imagined that the second half would be a more fighting contest – but the Storm were held to just six points, in a losing effort.
Sydney Roosters imperious in 2018 NRL Grand Final win
Cronk played the match, after much conjecture over his inclusion. Taking right up until the last few hours to decide whether to risk further injury, Cronk was a ‘director’ across the field.
Not involved in taking the ball to the line, he, in fact, was there as a motivating factor. His nine tackles and few ran-meters only showing how the injury [a broken scapular] limited his physical ability. But playing with courage, it was a huge factor in the sides outstanding performance.
— NRL (@NRL) September 30, 2018
The Roosters, one of the more established clubs in the busy Sydney rugby league market, now adds another title to their ledger. 13 titles, which is second to St George  yet in stark contrast to the South Sydney Rabbitohs .
The 2018 NRL Grand Final winners can now walk that much taller, and were celebrating with fans well into the early hours. A well-deserved triumph, after ending the season as Minor Premiers – top of the table, and now ‘top of the world’.
Many of the stars of the night were dressed in the red, white and blue of Sydney. From the super effort by Cooper Cronk. He was more than adequately supported by the leadership of Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend. The senior men were part of a group that included Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, James Tedesco and Blake Ferguson.
The side had as much experience, as they did star power. From Daniel Tupou and Latrell Mitchell, to the fiery Siosiua Taukeiaho. But it was the youthful enthusiasm of Joseph Manu. The tall, slender runner was all power, as he starred on attack and defence.
— ANZ Stadium (@ANZStadium) September 30, 2018
Outstanding performance by Luke Keary holds down Melbourne stars
But apart from the incredible effort of Cronk, who was a general around the field, the most instrumental player for the Premiers was Luke Keary, who won the Clive Churchill Medal for his 2018 NRL Grand Final performance.
The award; won by players like Mal Meninga, Greg Englis, Peter Sterling and other leading lights of the game, is a tribute to his talent and the confidence that he had in the team around him.
“It does feel good. I’m honestly stoked for every single person that’s involved with this team,” he told NRL.com.
“I’m just so happy for every person in that dressing room.”
The highlights package below show a game where one side were dominant over the other. And even while the Melbourne team would often pepper the Sydney Roosters line, the committed defence was more than able to deny almost all their attack.
Only a loose pass from the celebrated Keary allowed Storm speedster Josh Addo-Carr to pounce, and ran 85 metres and reduced the deficit to two converted tries, with 17 minutes on the clock.
But even with the seniority of Cameron Smith and the ‘contentiously innocent’ Billy Slater, that large lead was simply too much to recover – even for the reigning Premiers. They handed their title to the Sydney Roosters, after the huge team performance….including the brave recovery by Cronk.
After 80 minutes, there was one clear winner and the Roosters ran away with the 2018 NRL Grand Final.
Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm Grand Final key points:
Cooper Cronk was diagnosed with a broken scapular, with teammate Blake Ferguson also ending the match with a broken leg
Cronk became the first man to win back-to-back premierships at two different clubs since Johnny Mayes did it in 1973-74 with Manly and Easts
Cameron Smith played in his 36th finals match, exceeding the record of Darren Lockyer
Cameron Munster became the first man since Canterbury’s Terry Lamb in 1995 to be sin-binned in a grand final
ANZ Stadium hosted the final before major refurbishment, and the 2018 NRL Grand Final was played in front of a crowd of 82,688.
“Main photo credit”
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