The NRL Finals got underway early as the Sydney Roosters secured their spot in the top eight after clinching an 18-14 win over Melbourne in a fiery and dramatic classic at AAMI Park.
But the game was marred by a horrifying scene just 10 minutes from time after Rooster’s Premiership star Victor Radley was knocked unconscious and taken off the field on a stretcher.
He had run into the hip of Storm captain Jesse Bromwich and was seen spasmodically as Melbourne players joined Roosters rivals in a rush to his aid.
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The concussion is a major concern as it was Radley’s second of the season after suffering a bad knock on round one.
But the quick reaction on the pitch was followed by the good news that Radley sat up and chatted around the rooms before the game was over.
The injured Roosters, who lost star winger Daniel Tupou in the first half to a groin injury, would cling to their seventh straight win.
The win spoiled the regular-season farewells for Storm stars Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Brandon Smith in front of 25,308 fans at AAMI Park.
Trent Robinson’s side silenced the narrow-minded crowd in Melbourne after taking a 14-0 lead after 20 minutes.
But when Nick Meaney scored in the 65th minute it gave the Storms steadfast hope they could secure a place in the top four ahead of an away showdown with Parramatta in the final round next week.
Melbourne made several late breakouts as they attempted to take the lead for the first time in the game, but the Roosters valiantly defended their line, including a game-saving try from superstar James Tedesco to earn a famous win.
Kenny Bromwich appeared destined to cross the Storm’s third try but Tedesco was able to get his body between the ball and the line.
“It’s not always pretty, but you have to be desperate and come up with try savers to win big games and none is more critical than that,” said Robinson.
“We had to play differently tonight but we’re proud of how the lads did it.”
However, the Roosters’ first win over the Storm since 2019 came at a cost as they left Victoria with several concerns, starting with Tupou’s injury and Radley’s concussion.
Tupou has a history of groin problems and Robinson admitted the injury was a big problem for the Roosters.
Lindsay Collins, back from his own concussion in his first game, was called in for an incident with Storm’s Tom Eisenhuth in the final minutes.
The game was fiery from the start and heated up further when Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was sent into the sin trap for a high tackle on Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
Melbourne finally took advantage just before Waerea-Hargreaves returned to the field when young flyer crossed Xavier Coates in the corner eight minutes before half-time.
A dramatic night took another turn when Storm coach Craig Bellamy came down with a migraine and was replaced by senior assistant Stephen Kearney in the post-game press conference.
“The Roosters got off to a really good start and we couldn’t help it,” Kearney said.
“We had our chances, we probably weren’t quite good enough and I thought the Roosters did a really good job.”
The Storm will take on the Eels at CommBank Stadium on Thursday night, with winners securing a place in the top four and losers progressing to an elimination final.
Meanwhile, the Roosters will host South Sydney in a blockbuster reopening of Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
– with 7NEWS
https://7news.com.au/sport/rugby-league/nrl-classic-overshadowed-by-horrific-scene-after-premiership-hero-victor-radleys-head-knock-c-8020298 Victor Radley concussion: Sydney Roosters star in positive update after NRL classic marred by horrifying scene