Sydney Roosters win National Rugby League title
SYDNEY (AP) — The Sydney Roosters beat Manly 26-18 on Sunday in the National Rugby League grand final to back up their first-place finish during the regular season and give coach-of-the year Trent Robinson a premiership in his first season in charge.
Leading 8-6 at halftime before 81,491 fans at the former Olympic stadium, the Roosters conceded 12 consecutive points to the Sea Eagles early in the second half, including a penalty try, to trail 18-8.
The Roosters then came back to score 18 straight points, with center Michael Jennings sealing the win and the club’s 13th premiership with a try. They scored four tries to three to clinch their first NRL title since 2002.
Rugby union convert Sonny Bill Williams, playing his first season back in the rival code, had a forgettable first half, dropping several balls and throwing away passes, before redeeming himself during the second.
Aidan Guerra crossed in the 55th minute to start the Roosters’ comeback, then Williams stepped up with an offload for James Maloney before Shaun Kenny-Dowall raced away to give the Roosters the lead.
Maloney then set up his third try of the night as Jennings, the third of the Roosters’ big off-season recruits, touched down on a grubber from his five-eighth, and his conversion pushing the lead beyond a converted try.
“I thought Manly’s defense was on like they do in these big games,” Robinson said. “We had too many passes and ran away from the fight a little bit.
“As soon as we got out of that, we were in our game. That’s the way we’ve played all year. We forgot it a bit in the first 20, but we did enough to get back on track and get the game done.”
Robinson, at 36 the youngest coach in the NRL, credited Williams with getting the Roosters back in the contest.
“As soon as he righted himself, we got back on track,” Robinson said.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey, who played nearly 300 matches for the Sea Eagles, said “we let a few things slip.”
“No point whinging about it now, we weren’t good enough and that’s the way it goes,” Toovey said. “We blew a few opportunities there as well, probably could have been a bit further in front.”
Sydney Roosters 26 (Aidan Guerra, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Daniel Tupou tries; James Maloney 5 goals), Manly 18 (Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Jorge Taufua tries; Lyon 3 goals). HT: 8-6. Attendance: 81,491.