Storm thump Roosters in brutal NRL clash

·3-min read

Gen Next made their mark for Melbourne with Ryan Papenhuyzen, Harry Grant and Jahrome Hughes combining to steer the Storm to a gripping 20-4 win over the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.

The new "Big Three" - replacing retired Storm greats Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk - stood up at AAMI Park, where the side remain unbeaten this season.

Grant, playing just his fourth Melbourne match and 19th in the NRL, was all class off the bench, his tandem combination with fellow dummy-half Brandon Smith causing the Roosters plenty of headaches.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said both hookers deserved praise, with Smith helping taking the sting out of the Roosters defence to allow Grant to shine.

"He (Harry) was certainly one of our better players, no doubt, but Brandon deserves some credit there too," Bellamy said.

"They did a really good job, especially in that first 20 minutes of the second half when they were playing in tandem, going out of dummy half, they did a great job."

Melbourne took a 4-0 lead into halftime after a hectic opening 40 minutes, with some brutal hits from both sides.

The Storm had 59 per cent of possession but were unable to break the Roosters' defensive wall and their frustration showed.

But the visitors' were off in attack, only completing 11 of 20 sets, making 11 errors, while a 5-1 penalty count didn't help their cause.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson praised his team's "courage" but said they didn't execute well enough.

"We couldn't put two sides of the ball together," Robinson said.

"We fought so hard in that first half to be in the game and defended really, really well but we just couldn't get out of our own end - too many errors and couldn't put enough pressure on them."

The much anticipated battle between superstar fullbacks Papenhuyzen and James Tedesco looked to be over soon after it began with the Storm ace forced off after just four minutes for a HIA.

Papenhuyzen was crunched attempting to stop Josh Morris scoring and while the Roosters winger was deemed to have lost the ball, the Melbourne fullback left the field holding his left shoulder before having a concussion test.

But he passed to return to play after 20 minutes and immediately made an impact, kicking their first penalty goal after an earlier miss by Cameron Munster.

Roosters lock Victor Radley was in the thick of the action, sin-binned in the 13th minute and put on report for an alleged high shot on Munster and then in the final minute of the first half was penalised for stripping the ball, pushing the margin to four points.

The Storm's weight of possession began to tell and Grant started to make serious ground with his darting runs from dummy-half.

He fired a pass to Hughes, who slipped through to score the first try of the night in the 49th minute.

Brandon Smith got in on the action at dummy-half and found Papenhuyzen on the fly and the lead was out to 14-0.

That soon became a match-winning 20 points when Grant dived across from dummy-half in the 67th minute.

Matt Ikuvalu got one back for the visitors in the final minute but there was little other joy from their trip south, with forwards Sio Siua Taukeiaho suffering a broken rib and Jared Warea-Hargreaves a shoulder injury.