12 Sep 2015

Storm upset Roosters to open NRL finals

11:32 am on 12 September 2015

The Melbourne Storm earned a week off and a home preliminary final with a 20-18 victory over the Roosters in the opening match of the National Rugby League's finals series in Sydney.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The minor premiers the Roosters will play next Friday night against the winner of tonight's elimination final between the Bulldogs and Dragons.

The Storm's qualifying final victory last night over a team that had won their previous 12 games was achieved despite injuries to winger Marika Koroibete and forward Jordan McLean.

Those issues left Melbourne with just 15 fit players for the final quarter.

Koroibete who stretched his team leading try tally for the year to 16 with a classy first-half finish, didn't reappear for the second half and was later sighted on crutches.

Coach Craig Bellamy said his Fijian winger needed 12 stitches in a deep wound near his achilles and hoped it wouldn't be a long term injury issue.

The stirring win was based on a strong defensive effort and achieved despite the injuries and some uncharacteristically poor late tackle options.

"We did a lot of things right and we showed a lot of guts but we still need to find a little bit of polish," Storm forward Ryan Hinchcliffe said.

"When we had them under the pump we let them off the hook, so we need to work on those things."

"You need to take your opportunities in big games, they don't come along very often and you need to grab them with both hands."

Meanwhile the Roosters coach Trent Robinson has accused the NRL referees of putting their whistles away and letting Melbourne run roughshod in the wrestle during their qualifying final loss.

The Storm upset the minor premiers with the grinding win that puts them just a victory away from the grand final.

While the NRL this year promised to speed up the play the ball and change interpretations of the ruck, Robinson suggested the match represented a regression in the rules.

Still smarting after his side were pitched into a sudden death play-off against either Canterbury or St George Illawarra next week, Robinson said the Storm were allowed to get away with too much by the whistleblowers.

"There were no penalties in that area. The ref just let it go," Robinson said.

"There was no reffing of that area. We knew that's their style. They've been doing it for 10 years."

"The game has moved on a bit this year but not as much tonight as what it has the last few weeks as well at different times."

Captain and hooker Cameron Smith said Melbourne needed to ask more questions of opposing defences when they got within 20 metres of the try line.

"It's been a bit of an issue for us over the past few weeks or the most part of this year to be honest," Smith said.

"We're doing a really good job of getting down there, but sometimes we're struggling to get across the line or even stretch their defence at times."

"We've put ourselves in a good position and these opportunities don't come around very often and you want to grab it with both hands and really enjoy it and work your backside off and give yourself a shot at being in the big one at the end of the year."

The performance against the Roosters continued the Storm's recent lift in defensive effort, which allowed opposing teams to cross their line just five time in the last four rounds before the finals.

"The last five weeks they've really got a bit of grit about them in our defence and this time of year that's what you need," Bellamy said.

"There were some things last year that put us off the rails a little bit when we came to the big games at the end of the season."

"We worked really hard at what we thought was the problem in the off season and we're starting to see some signs of getting some results from that."