NRL Grand Final: Sydney Roosters spoil Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater farewell
|NRL Grand Final|
|Sydney Roosters (18) 21|
|Tries: Tupou, Mitchell, Manu Goals: Mitchell 4 Drop-goal: Keary|
|Melbourne Storm (0) 6|
|Try: Addo-Carr Goal: C Smith|
The Sydney Roosters spoiled Melbourne Storm legend Billy Slater's rugby league farewell with a comprehensive victory in the NRL Grand Final.
Slater was cleared to play in the showpiece after avoiding suspension for a shoulder charge in the semi-finals.
The 35-year-old has won two NRL Premierships and two World Cups, plus eight State of Origin championships.
But he could do little to stop a rampant Rooters side, coached by former Catalans Dragons coach Trent Robinson.
"We tried our best but that's the way it goes sometimes and I'm really grateful for the career I've had, the friends I've made and what rugby league has done for me," said Slater.
The Roosters themselves named former Storm star Cooper Cronk in their team after the 34-year-old passed a late fitness test on a shoulder injury, later revealed to be a broken shoulder blade.
Although Cronk, who spent 16 years at Melbourne before joining their rivals, was far from his best physically, his on-field experience played a massive part in helping his new side to their first title since 2013.
"We had to make up a game plan where we protected him (Cronk) as much as possible," said Roosters' co-captain Boyd Cordner.
"It's a big performance by Cooper that will go down in history."
The Roosters made a great start with Daniel Tupou and Latrell Mitchell both crossing for tries within the first 15 minutes while Mitchell converted one and added a penalty.
Cameron Munster's sin-binning on 30 minutes allowed Mitchell to extend the lead by a further two points .
Sydney piled on the pressure and a pass from full-back James Tedesco sent Joseph Manu over in the corner. Mitchell was unable to convert but Roosters still went into the break in a dominant position.
Melbourne tried to challenge the Sydney line after the break but were unable to get the final pass away as the Roosters held firm.
The Storm finally got on the scoreboard on 62 minutes when an errant pass from the otherwise outstanding Luke Keary was intercepted by Josh Addo-Carr and he raced 85 metres for a try, converted by Cameron Smith.
A Keary drop goal eased the Roosters nerves and when Munster was sin-binned for a second time with two minutes to play, Mitchell had the final say with another penalty.
"Everyone at this football club has sacrificed something for me to be here and it was my duty to do whatever I could do to repay that faith," said Cronk, who undertook the victory parade with his left arm in a sling.
"I don't take that responsibility lightly, that was the motivation to get out there and get my job done tonight."