The Sydney Roosters are 40 minutes away from claiming their second premiership in five years after a massive gamble on injured playmaker Cooper Cronk.
The Roosters ruled the roost against Melbourne Storm to be 18-0 up at half-time, with Cronk’s kicks setting up his side’s first two tries, despite a torn rotator cuff.
Their skipper Boyd Cordner is set to become just the second man to captain his side to an Origin series win and premiership in the same year.
The only other player to do so was Canterbury Bulldogs legend Peter Mortimer in 1985.
Delighted Roosters fans were pleased to see their side skip to a 18-0 halftime lead
Daniel Tupou touches down for the first try of the NRL grand final
Nursing a shoulder injury, star playmaker Cooper Cronk (pictured) was a late inclusion to the Roosters’ starting line-up
The Roosters made their presence felt early when they skipped to a 12-0 lead after just 15 minutes.
Latrell Mitchell booted an early penalty goal right in front before winger Daniel Tupou scored the first try in the seventh minute off a floating pass from five-eighth Luke Keary.
Mitchell found his way to the try-line minutes later and then kicked the conversion to put the Roosters 12-0 ahead.
It could have been 18-0 after 20 minutes but had a try disallowed.
Melbourne five-eighth Cameron Munster was sin-binned in the 30th minute for a professional foul before Mitchell increased the lead to 14.
The Roosters made use of their one man advantage with a try to centre Joseph Manu minutes before half-time to lead 18-0.
‘I don’t think anybody saw this coming,’ Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould said.
‘This is as dominant as it gets.’
Melbourne Storm fullback Bill Slater had hoped for a fairytale ending to his NRL 319 game career with a third premiership but it wasn’t to be.
Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell (left) has been in the thick of the action. He’s pictured in a tussle with Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr
The Roosters celebrate their second try within the space of seven minutes
Roosters skipper Boyd Corner (right) celebrates a first half try
The grand final was Storm fullback Billy Slater’s 319th and final NRL match
More than 80,000 fans packed ANZ Stadium into a sea of purple-clad fans from south of the border and red, white and blue from Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
The Roosters were given a huge boost prior to kick-off when it was announced that champion playmaker Cooper Cronk was cleared fit to play after injuring his shoulder in the preliminary final a week ago.
He will start as halfback wearing jersey number 23.
Roosters fans outnumbered Melbourne Storm fans in the capacity crowd at ANZ Stadium
Melbourne Storm cheerleaders entertained the 80,000-strong crowd prior to kick-off
Commentators described his inclusion as ‘one of the riskiest decisions ahead of a grand final’, while others praised the club for pulling off ‘the greatest ruse in history’.
‘Whoever coined the ‘severe’ rotator cuff injury statement has sparked the wildest speculation ever. Cronk playing. Never in doubt,’ one social media user wrote.
This Sydney Roosters fan shows his true colours
These friends are divided on who will win Sunday night’s grand final
Feathers will fly when the NRL grand final between Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters gets underway
Storm fans were eyeing off back to back NRL premierships, which hadn’t been done since 1992-1993
Storm went into the match as favourites in their bid to become the first team in 25 years to win back to back premierships.
The last team to achieve the feat was the Brisbane Broncos in 1992-1993 against St George Dragons on both occasions.
The Roosters were looking to claim their second premiership since 2013.
Prior to the match, the crowd farewelled retiring NRL stars and had mixed feelings on the pre-match entertainment from Australian indie rock band Gang Of Youths.
These patriotic Sydney Roosters fans believe 2018 is their year
Tatt’s dedication: One fan shows off his devotion for the Sydney Roosters
Many Storm fans travelled from south of the border for the NRL grand final
Storm skipper Cameron Smith (pictured) is a favourite among Melbourne supporters