Roosters edge classic final
Sydney Roosters won their first premiership in 11 years after coming from behind to beat Manly 26-18 in a controversial and at times spiteful Grand Final.
- Related Content
The Roosters looked like losing their second decider in four years when two quick four-pointers - including a penalty try - saw the Sea Eagles break out to an 18-8 lead 10 minutes into the second half.
But the Tricolours would not be denied, crossing three times in the last 25 minutes to record a remarkable victory four-tries-to-three victory.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson became just the fifth coach in history to win a premiership in his first season in charge.
Daly Cherry-Evans was the surprise winner of the Clive Churchill medal as man of the match despite being from the losing side, with the Manly half having to accept the award as boos rained down the from Roosters fans.
Before 81,491 fans at ANZ Stadium, the decider had everything.
There were some brilliant tries, amazing defence and a touch of controversy, including Manly's penalty try three minutes after the break.
It was a nervous start by the Roosters as they were forced into errors by some ferocious Manly defence.
And it was a crunching Kieran Foran tackle that forced Sonny Bill Williams to spill the ball, giving the Sea Eagles the perfect attacking opportunity.
After going close to scoring down their left side just a few minutes earlier, Manly made it count this time with Jorge Taufua crossing inside nine minutes.
The Sea Eagles reverted to one of their favoured moves, with Foran finding Brett Stewart out the back to create an overlap.
The classy full-back summed up the situation perfectly, getting Steve Matai on the outside of his defender before releasing Taufua to dive over in the corner.
It was his 20th try of the season but Jamie Lyon's conversion landed short to keep the score at 4-0.
Manly gave themselves another great chance when they gang-tackled Roosters winger Daniel Tupou close to his line, pushing him back almost 10 metres into his in-goal to force a line dropout.
On the next set Jake Friend held on too long in a tackle to concede a penalty, with Lyon kicking the ensuing goal to increase Manly's lead to 6-0 on 15 minutes.
The Roosters managed to ride out the storm and when the momentum finally changed soon after they made it count with a remarkable try to Tupou.
On the last tackle James Maloney bombed to the right wing for Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, who batted the ball back to Shaun Kenny-Dowall to keep the play alive.
The Roosters centre jinked back across field before finding Maloney again, with the pivot steadying before kicking to the other side of the field.
Tupou timed his jump to perfection, grabbing the ball high above his head and planting it down.
Maloney nailed the sideline conversion to level the scores.
It sparked a total change in the game with the Roosters now heavily on the front foot.
It was only some more desperate Manly defence on their own line that denied Sydney another four-pointer soon after, before a flash-point saw them hit the lead.
Justin Horo was penalised for holding down too long in a tackle on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, with the Roosters front-rower appearing to get up and land a glancing head-butt on the Manly forward.
Stewart appealed to referee Shayne Hayne to take action against the Roosters enforcer and could be heard shouting: "What about the head-butt by that grub."
But the officials decided to take no action against Waerea-Hargreaves, with Maloney slotting the penalty goal to give his side an 8-6 lead at the break.
The contentious calls continued early in the second half when Manly went back in front after they were awarded a penalty try.
After Cherry-Evans made a break down the right wing, he kicked the ball ahead and back in field for his chasers.
Lyon appeared to be winning the race to the loose ball only to be taken out by Roosters forward Mitchell Aubusson.
Hayne sent the decision upstairs with video referee Ashley Klein ruling Lyon would have scored and giving the Sea Eagles a penalty try.
The incident seemed to rattle the Roosters and just six minutes later the Sea Eagles were in again when Foran and Stewart again combined to send Matai over and the Sea Eagles had opened up an 18-8 buffer.
Just when it looked like Manly had broken the Roosters' resolve, they turned the game with two tries in five minutes.
First Aidan Guerra crossed after a brilliant pass from Mitchell Pearce, before a fantastic piece of play started by Williams was finished off by Kenny-Dowall.
A trademark SBW offload sent Maloney away downfield, with the Roosters pivot finding Minichiello is support before the skipper hit Kenny-Dowall with a long pass to score in the corner.
Maloney made no mistake with another sideline conversion to put the Roosters back in front at 20-18 with less than 20 minutes left.
The Roosters then ensured the result when Michael Jennings chased through on Maloney's grubber, planting the ball down just inside the dead-ball line with eight minutes left.