The Sydney Roosters have claimed the NRL minor premiership after Latrell Mitchell fired them to a 44-10 thrashing of Parramatta.
The Roosters went into their final regular season game in Sydney with a simple equation in front of them – win by 27 points or more and jump Melbourne into top spot after the Storm stumbled against Penrith a day earlier.
And they did just that, turning in a ruthless second-half display to take advantage of an ill-disciplined Eels outfit who will finish the year with their third wooden spoon in seven years.
After leading 14-6 at half-time, the Roosters turned the screws when the Eels’ Mitchell Moses and Michael Jennings were sin-binned within nine minutes of each other.
They raced in five tries in 17 minutes to wash away their two last-start losses.
Mitchell was dominant down the right edge, crossing for three tries in 11 minutes at one point.
Five-eighth Luke Keary was dynamic in his second game back from injury, floating a pass for Blake Ferguson to get his second five minutes after the break.
Ferguson continued his stellar season, racking up 279 metres and crossing for three tries.
With the Roosters’ right side running rampant in the second half, Joseph Manu cashed in with two tries while James Tedesco finished with one try and three try assists.
Under Trent Robinson, the Roosters have now won four minor premierships in six years.
They are all but confirmed to meet Cronulla in the first week of the finals.
And even with prop Dylan Napa suspended for another two games, they will enter the finals as the premiership favourites.
The Eels were their own worst enemies with both of the Roosters’ first-half tries coming after poor kicks from Corey Norman and Moses.
Robinson said he came into the game knowing what they had to do to claim the JJ Giltinan Shield but they hadn’t talked about it as a squad.
“Our job just was to win today to finish in the top two,” Robinson said.
“If we were on song, there was a chance of getting the minor premiership.
“You had to know the points difference and we didn’t talk about it as a team.
“I’m sure some of the players would have known, we were just going to play our football.”
Eels skipper Tim Mannah described their season as the most disappointing he’d been a part of while coach Brad Arthur couldn’t hide his relief that their 2018 campaign had come to an end.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m glad it’s over,” Arthur said.
“We can’t be too quick to dismiss it and move on.
“I’m looking forward to a fresh start.”