Triumphant Sydney Roosters players have celebrated their nail-biting Grand Final victory alongside their adoring wives and girlfriends.
Tara Rushton was seen planting a kiss on her NRL star husband Cooper Cronk following his team’s win against the Canberra Raiders at a sold-out 80,000-strong crowd at ANZ Stadium.
The Roosters were inundated with support with chicken costumes and tribute signs to the the star half-back, who played his 372nd and final NRL match tonight.
Cronk’s farewell came in controversial fashion, after spending time in the sin-bin for a professional foul early in the second half when it was ruled he tackled Canberra’s Josh Papalii without the ball.
Cooper Cronk kisses his wife Tara Rushton after the Roosters’ 14 to eight victory against the Canberra Raiders on Sunday night
Cooper Cronk is chaired off the field by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (left) and Boyd Cordner (right) after playing his 372nd and last ever game
Latrell Mitchell celebrated with his family at a sold out ANZ Stadium after the Roosters’ stunning victory
The Roosters celebrate with the Premiership Trophy during the 2019 NRL Grand Final
Roosters players celebrated by throwing a bucket of Gatorade over the head of Roosters coach Trent Robinson
Roosters fullback Latrell Mitchell celebrates victory with excited fans
Roosters Chairman Nick Politis celebrates with James Tedesco
He was forced to watch on while his team staunchly defended the Raiders’ waves of attack but they were able to send out the 35-year-old with his third successive NRL premiership.
A hoarse Cronk said after Sunday night’s match he was ready for retirement after 16 seasons and 372 games.
‘I’ve been blessed to be able to play this game. It’s a humbling experience to be able to live out a dream and have some success but I’m ready for retirement,’ Cronk told former Melbourne teammate Billy Slater in an interview with the Nine Network.
‘I’ve been involved with some good players and some good clubs and I just jumped on the back of that.
‘It’s been one hell of a journey, one hell of a ride and I’m glad it’s over.’
Cronk said he didn’t think he should have been sin-binned for the Papalii tackle, which was a try-saver, with the rampaging prop just metres from the line.
Roosters hooker Sam Verrills celebrates and holds up the NRL Premiership Trophy
Cooper Cronk (right) and Luke Keary (left) celebrate victory as they walk down the tunnel following the Roosters’ 14-8 win over the Canberra Raiders
Cricketer Steve Smith shared a beer with Roosters captain Boyd Cordner and Roosters players in the changing room following their victory
An elated Roosters side celebrate victory with the trophy in the changing rooms after Sunday night’s Grand Final
‘I’m not here to criticise the referee but I didn’t think it was a sin-bin offence,’ Cronk said.
‘It took heart and soul for this football club to defend for that time and counter that by scoring points when I got back.’
Roosters captain Boyd Cordner paid special tribute to Cronk during the presentation.
‘What a career you’ve had,’ Cordner said of the No.7.
‘We’ve been blessed to have you here at the Sydney Roosters. What you’ve done for this team and for this club will never be forgotten.
‘We’ll make sure we celebrate this one for you.’
Cooper Cronk is applauded by team mates in the changing room
Steve Smith (centre) shares a beer with Roosters captain Boyd Cordner and other players in the changing room
3rd minute: Charged down kick which could have led to a Canberra Raiders try hit a Sydney Roosters trainer on the field in the head.
6th minute: The Sydney Roosters draw first blood when hooker Sam Verrills scores the first game of the match
49th minute: Josh Papalii denied a penalty try when he was tackled without the ball. Cooper Cronk was sin-binned over the incident.
71st minute: The Roosters were given the ball back deep in Raiders territory when the referees initially waved six more tackles to Canberra but then changed their minds.
73rd minute: Roosters full-back James Tedesco races away to score the match-winning try
The win means Cronk retires as the most successful halfback in the game’s history, equalling St George’s Bob Bugden from the 1950s with the most grand final wins at halfback with six.
But the Roosters’ 14-6 premiership victory was marred by an outrageous blunder by referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton with seven minutes to go and the score dead-locked at 8-all.
The Roosters were given the ball back deep in Raiders territory when the referees initially waved six more tackles to Canberra before Cummins changed his mind.
Seconds later, Roosters full-back James Tedesco raced away to score what was the match-winning try.
It was one of several controversial decisions that went against the Raiders in their first Grand Final appearance in 25 years.
In the opening stages, a charged down kick which could have led to a Canberra Raiders try hit the Sydney Roosters physio on the field at the time, in the head.
The Raiders were also denied a penalty try when Josh Papalii was tackled without the ball metres from the try-line, which resulted in the sin-binning of Cooper Cronk.
Roosters players celebrate victory by spraying champagne in the changing rooms
Head coach of the Roosters Trent Robinson talks to players in the changing room following the Roosters victory