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Roosters claim NRL minor premiership

James Maloney

The Sydney Roosters are the new NRL minor premiers after coming from behind to beat bitter rivals South Sydney 24-12 in a brutal but absorbing encounter in front of a record crowd for a non-finals game.
Roosters claim NRL minor premiership
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Sept 6 AAP - The Sydney Roosters are the new NRL minor premiers after coming from behind to beat bitter rivals South Sydney 24-12 in a brutal but absorbing encounter in front of a record crowd for a non-finals game.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson called for his big names to step up when it really mattered and they responded to the challenge with Sonny Bill Williams, James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce all producing outstanding displays.


It's the first time since 2004 the Roosters have won the the JJ Giltinan Shield and they'll bank a cheque for $100,000.

Five-eighth Maloney scored two tries with Pearce crossing under the posts for his side's decisive four-pointer on the hour-mark in front of a crowd of 59,780.

There was an air of menace from both sets of players from the opening kick-off with Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Souths' Sam Burgess sizing each other up after just four minutes.

But it was the hosts who drew first blood after 13 minutes thanks to a piece of brilliance from Greg Inglis.

The superstar fullback picked the ball up 10 metres from the Roosters' posts and was greeted by the sight of Williams racing out of the line and hitting him hard front-on.

But showing amazing power and strength, the Queenslander pushed the dual international and heavyweight boxing champion away and darted over the line.

The Roosters responded well and levelled the scores when Maloney went over after latching onto a Pearce pass and just three minutes later Aidan Guerra gave the Roosters the lead.

But close to halftime Jason Clark levelled the scores when he lunged over the line with Adam Reynolds' kick making it 12-10 at the interval.

The second half saw the intensity rise a notch and Souths went close to scoring on three occasions through Sam Burgess and Dylan Walker, who missed a big chance when Reynolds' kick bounced off his knee as he looked certain to score.

But the turning point proved to be rookie half Luke Keary failing to earn the restart from his kick on the fifth tackle.

The Roosters broke downfield and Maloney put them back in front from close range with 57 minutes on the clock.

And his NSW halves partner Pearce did likewise minutes later when he profited from a brilliant Williams break and sauntered to the line untouched.

That try knocked the stuffing but not the heart out of Michael Maguire's side with Hargreaves being placed on report for catching Chris McQueen with the a forearm to the head and then finding himself facing several angry Rabbitohs players.

But despite questions being asked about their ability under pressure after two straight losses the Roosters held on comfortably in the final stages to deny their old foes a first minor premiership since 1989.

"It means everything to win this, the competition is so hard, but we have a lot more to do yet," said Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello.




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