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SBW gamble pays off for Roosters

It was the high risk gamble that paid the ultimate dividend, with Sydney Roosters superstar Sonny Bill Williams coming up big when it mattered most to deliver a 26-18 win over Manly in a grand final for the ages.
SBW gamble pays off for Roosters
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Oct 6 AAP - It was the high risk gamble that paid the ultimate dividend, with Sydney Roosters superstar Sonny Bill Williams coming up big when it mattered most to deliver a 26-18 win over Manly in a grand final for the ages.

In what may well prove to be his last NRL hurrah before a return to rugby union, Williams started slow and came home like a train as the tri-colours came back from ten points down to collect their first premiership since 2002.

The Roosters went all out to secure the title with Williams, Michael Jennings and James Maloney all brought in to return some lustre to a fading force - all three instrumental in delivering coach Trent Robinson a title at his first attempt, the sixth man to do so.

But while the big three starred, Robinson said the Roosters were more than that.

"We copped a bit of a bagging at the start of the year for some of our recruitment, the star factor, that that was going to overtake the team," Robinson said.

"But every player to a tee, whether they were the highest paid or the part-timers, they bought into the team, that was the most important.

"We knew we were ready, we knew we'd worked hard all year and we just had to do it.

"People try and put it down to a player or two or a coach.

"A lot of people worked so hard over the last few years to get it to this point where we were ripe this year and a lot of us have come in and benefited form that."

None more so than Williams, who added the NRL premiership to the Rugby World Cup and Super Rugby title he had won in the preceding two years.

Now he weighs up his future, but he was giving little away.

"I'll try and get it in the next couple of weeks," Williams said.

"The last month I've stayed off social media and everything, just knuckled down to get to this point."

Asked to compare the NRL title to his list of other achievements, Williams said:

"It's up there mate, because the NRL's just such a tough competition.

"I'm just blessed to be in a few good teams."

Asked about the possibility of Williams leaving, Maloney said:

"I'll strap myself to him, he's not going anywhere."

Maloney and Williams were both unlucky not to take out the Clive Churchill Medal - an honour which went to Daly Cherry-Evans - the third time it had gone to a player from the losing side.

A Williams offload for Maloney set up the try which gave the Roosters a second half lead they would not relinquish, though the Sea Eagles would rightly be aggrieved at a forward pass from Maloney to Anthony Minichiello after the bust.

Then Maloney came up with his third try assist of the night with a grubber for Jennings seven minutes from time, which broke the hearts of a Sea Eagles side which lost to the Roosters for the fourth time this year, just the third time such a feat has occurred.

While the Sea Eagles did benefit from a penalty try just after halftime that could have gone either way, they did get the wrong end of the stick a number of times from the referees, though coach Geoff Toovey wasn't about to repeat the blow-up which cost him $10,000 earlier in the year.

"There's no use speaking now emotionally, you get in trouble for that," Toovey said, before noticing NRL head of football Todd Greenberg in the back of the room.

"Sorry, some of us get in trouble for that."

Toovey admitted they shouldn't have let the game go when leading 18-8 early in the second half, but this was a Roosters side that was not to be denied.




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