Roosters win NRL minor premiership
SYDNEY (AP) — The Sydney Roosters have won the minor premiership in Australia’s National Rugby League, clinching first place with a 44-10 win over Parramatta on Saturday
Parramatta was consigned to last.
The Roosters came into the match needing to win by 27 points to edge defending champion Melbourne on points differential. Melbourne’s hopes of winning the minor premiership for the second straight season were dashed when it was beaten by Penrith 22-16.
The Roosters, Melbourne and Souths finished the regular season tied on 34 championship points but the Roosters clinched their win with a points differential of 181 to Melbourne’s 173 and Souths’ 145.
Cronulla will join those three teams on 34 points — filling out the top four — if they can beat the Bulldogs on Sunday but would need to win by a margin of more than 97 points to claim first place.
The Roosters’ win over Parramatta was the final indication of a topsy-turvy season in the NRL.
At the start of the season the teams were almost equally favored to win the premiership. But while the Roosters prospered, winning 16 of their regular-season games, the star-studded Eels foundered, winning only six matches to finish at the bottom of the ladder, two points behind troubled Manly.
The Roosters were on target to achieve their 27-point winning margin when they led 14-0 after 28 minutes. Parramatta showed a spark of resistance when it cut the lead to 14-6 at halftime and to 20-10 after eight minutes of the second half.
But the Roosters eased away with three second-half tries to Latrell Mitchell and a double on either side of halftime by Blake Ferguson.
The win gave coach Trent Robinson his fourth minor premiership in six years at the Roosters on the night he became the club’s longest-serving coach in his 155th match in charge.
“It’s not an easy thing to win — it’s 24 rounds,” Robinson said. “It’s a tough competition, one of the toughest, physical sports in the world. To finish on top after 24 rounds is a quality moment for the club.”
The season was one of the closest in NRL history with only four points separating the top eight teams which will contest the playoffs. Penrith, St. George Illawarra, the New Zealand Warriors, and Brisbane fill out the top eight for the playoffs which begin next weekend.
Meanwhile, Johnathan Thurston — regarded as one of the greatest league players of all time — played his last match for North Queensland, retiring after 14 seasons.