Roosters-Storm rivalry rages on as another final looms


Five years after Cooper Cronk led the Sydney Roosters to a premiership over Melbourne with one working arm, the rivalry between the two most successful clubs of this century rages on.

At least one of the Storm and the Roosters have played in 17 of the 25 grand finals since 1998, making them the most dominant teams of the NRL-era.

Between them, they have won 10 of those deciders, although Melbourne later had their 2007 and 2009 titles rescinded over salary-cap breaches.

Friday night's semi-final at AAMI Park is sure to add another chapter to the storied rivalry.

Cronk's effort with a fractured left scapula in the 2018 decider headlines the greatest finals moments between the two teams, with surprisingly few players left from that memorable game.

James Tedesco, Luke Keary and Victor Radley are the three surviving Roosters for Friday's match, while Melbourne still have Cameron Munster, Christian Welch and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Brandon Smith will also feature, but has swapped the purple of Melbourne for the red, white and blue of the Roosters.

This finals match will be the first not to involve Cronk when the two teams have met in September this century.

The former Storm halfback led the Roosters to a preliminary-final win over his former club in 2020 - the most recent finals meeting between these teams.

It was Cronk who pulled the strings again in 2015, kicking off that year's finals with a 20-18 win for Melbourne.

"We've played a lot of semi-final games and we've been toe-to-toe for a long time," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said. 

"There's a respect there, but there's also a hunger to attack each other.

"That's why they are memorable games. And it's no different for this game.

"If we're cycling at the top enough, we'll run into each other enough. We really want to go after this game."

In recent years, Melbourne have had the wood over the Roosters.

The Storm have won seven of the last eight matches against their rivals, all of them regular-season games.

But Friday night will bring two different looking sides.

Melbourne suffered a late blow on Thursday evening, with halfback Jahrome Hughes ruled out with a calf injury.

He joins Ryan Papenhuyzen and Xavier Coates on the sideline.

The Roosters are even more depleted, without all their first-choice wingers and centres following the loss of Daniel Tupou, Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, Joey Manu and Billy Smith.

It's unlikely to lessen the intensity.

"We've played against each other in a lot of big games," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said. 

"It's been happening for a fair while and we've certainly got great respect for the Roosters and how they keep backing up each year." 


Finals finishes: 41 (Melbourne: 22, Roosters: 19)

Grand finals: 18 (Melbourne: 10, Roosters: 8)

Grand Final wins: 10 (Melbourne: 6*, Roosters: 4)

Head-to-head in finals: Roosters: 3, Storm: 1

* Includes Melbourne's two stripped premierships