Cometh the man, cometh the hour. That was exactly what we saw from Roosters back-rower Sonny Bill Williams, as when his side needed him most, he made himself known with a lovely offload and a crucial line-break – both in the second half and both leading to a Roosters win, taking the game out 26-18 over the Manly Sea Eagles.
It was a slow start by the Roosters, who were on the ropes early against a Manly side eager to win another title – before they steered the ship in the right direction heading into half-time.
As the game wore on, so too did the Roosters confidence and led by James Maloney and SBW, the Roosters made their presence felt and produced some clinical footy when it mattered most.
The talking point out of the game and rightfully so, was a spectacular try to Michael Jennings, who came flying out of nowhere to ground a rather innocuous grubber from Maloney, just before the dead-ball line.
With their key players standing up and making themselves known when it mattered, Roosters coach Trent Robinson said it goes further than that and that all players played their part.
“We copped a bit of a bagging at the start of the year for some of our recruitment, the star factor, that was going to overtake the team,” Robinson said.
“But every player to a tee, whether they were the highest paid or the part-timers, they bought into the team, that was the most important.
“We knew we were ready, we knew we’d worked hard all year and we just had to do it.
“People try and put it down to a player or two or a coach.
“A lot of people worked so hard over the last few years to get it to this point where we were ripe this year and a lot of us have come in and benefited form that.”
Robinson also became just the sixth coach to win a premiership in his maiden year of first-grade coaching.
As for Williams, with a big decision to make and a social media ban to boot – at least for the period leading up to the grand final – the decision is one he will think about.
“I’ll try and get it in the next couple of weeks,” Williams said.
“The last month I’ve stayed off social media and everything, just knuckled down to get to this point.”
Another talking point from the game was a contentious penalty try decision in Manly’s favour early on, one that had many scratching their heads.
Despite that, there were some indifferent calls against both sides and despite some disappointment, Manly coach Geoff Toovey was not about to lay it all on the line.
“There’s no use speaking now emotionally, you get in trouble for that,” Toovey said, before noticing NRL head of football Todd Greenberg in the back of the room.
“Sorry, some of us get in trouble for that.”
3. James Maloney
2. Daly Cherry-Evans
1. Sonny Bill Williams