SYDNEY - Sonny Bill Williams delivered in the hour of need as the Sydney Roosters prevailed 26-18 over Manly in a epic contest that will go down as one of the great NRL grand finals.
Capturing their first premiership since 2002, the Roosters beat the Sea Eagles for the fourth time in 2013 — Williams leaving an indelible impression in what shapes as his final game in the code before a return to rugby union.
It also handed coach Trent Robinson the ultimate prize in his first crack at the top job, becoming just the sixth man to do so.
It was a decider that had it all — lead changes, momentum swings and even a penalty try — but it was the late salvo of Williams after a less than spectacular opening hour that will emerge as the most significant memory.
Having trailed by ten points just after halftime, the Roosters got back in the contest when Aidan Guerra crossed in the 55th minute.
Then Williams, who had spilled balls and pushed passes all night, stepped up with a brilliant offload for James Maloney — his pass to Anthony Minichiello dubious before Shaun Kenny-Dowall raced away to give the Roosters the lead. Maloney then set up his third try of the night as the third of the Rosters' big off-season recruits, Michael Jennings, touched down on a grubber from his five-eighth, his conversion pushing the lead beyond a converted try.
It was obvious from the first tackle when Glenn Stewart came reeling out in pain that it was all on the line, the nerves of a season full of expectation showing on an error-riddled Roosters.