Roosters edge Sharks in finals preview
The Roosters have escaped a highly-scrappy but incredibly tense match at Cronulla with a 16-14 win off the back of a late Michael Gordon penalty goal despite being down to 12 men to finish the game with the scores level.
In a match that will likely earn both teams a fiery blast from their respective coaches following a mountain of poor options, penalties and errors it was a huge charge from Rooster Boyd Cordner and penalty against Sharks skipper Paul Gallen that ultimately proved the difference on the scoreboard.
Despite leading for the majority of the contest it looked as though the Roosters would get run down when Luke Keary was sin-binned for a professional foul for the last 10 minutes of the game and the Sharks immediately scored to level up and had all the momentum.
Lewis was monumental for the home side who will be left to rue a shocking kicking display from both halves and a general inability to threaten the defensive line of a Roosters team that seemed hell-bent on handing their opponents as many attacking chances as possible.
The loss leaves Cronulla at long odds of finishing in the top four while the Roosters have a huge chance to finish second and book a home final.
An early feeling-out period saw each team take an early penalty goal before a Blake Ferguson line break – running over the top of James Maloney – put the Roosters on the attack for Isaac Liu to score from close range off a Mitch Pearce short ball.
The Roosters threatened to run away with it when Ferguson powered over the top of Ricky Leutele on the Sharks' left edge but a few errors – which started when a Pearce bomb floated into touch on the full – handed the Sharks the chance to get back into the contest.
Despite Leutele butchering a chance against a stretched Roosters right edge, Val Holmes scored off the next play when he streaked through on a curling Maloney grubber. Despite further Roosters errors inviting Cronulla to snatch the lead before half-time, Cronulla's execution denied them and the Roosters held on to their four-point half-time advantage.
A bizarrely scrappy second half ensued, with Michael Gordon's 53rd-minute penalty goal the only points added for half an hour after the resumption – a period that included a diabolical bombed try.
Mitch Aubusson broke the line and found himself one on one against fullback Holmes close to the line and could have scored himself but instead fired a hard and ambitious pass out to Ferguson who couldn't reel it in.
The Roosters gave away a mountain of cheap ball through the half, constantly piggy-backing the Sharks out of their end or dropping in on the attack. The Sharks returned the favour by repeatedly kicking too deep to hand their opponent seven-tackle restarts.
The Sharks completely dominated the possession for the half but just couldn't find a way to crack the Roosters line.
A major turning point arrived with just under 10 minutes to play as Keary, wrapping up Lewis after a half-break, ripped the ball out and found himself sin-binned for a professional foul.
Lewis carved through the 12-man defensive line moments later to level the scores at 14-all.
The frantic final eight minutes saw a Maloney field goal attempt hit the posts and a Pearce attempt sail wide. Jared Waerea-Hargraves cost his team a shot with a dropped ball on attack but an inspirational run inside the Sharks half from Cordner dragged a penalty out of Gallen for holding too long and Gordon's ice-cool kick sealed a tense 16-14 win.
Sydney Roosters 16 (Liu, Ferguson tries; Gordon 4 goals) defeated Cronulla Sharks 14(Holmes, Lewis tries; Maloney 3 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Half-time:Roosters 12-8. Crowd: 17,268.
This article first appeared on NRL.COM