Roosters win Auckland Nines as Johnathan Thurston takes aim at Auckland

The Roosters have won the 2017 Auckland Nines, beating the Panthers 10-8 in the final.

They may not have had real superstars in their squad, but the Roosters were able to have enough experienced heads, plus plenty of x-factor to be the worthy champions.

Daniel Tupou scored the opening try in the final, racing down the right edge in the third minute and Bernard Lewis struck in the opposite corner soon after.

Leading 10-0 at halftime, the Roosters just needed to keep their defence solid in the second half for the title, but Malakai Watene-Zelezniak picked up a try in the 12th minute to get the Panthers back in the game.

Nathan Cleary scored a break away try with less than a minute to go, but the conversion was missed and the Roosters were able to remain possession for the remainder of the game to take the title.

It has been a weekend where the main talking point has been the future of the event in Auckland and everything points towards the tournament moving to Australia, possibly as early as next year.

While there has been plenty of good footy this weekend, the crowd numbers have been down and one of the tournament's biggest stars, Johnathan Thurston launched a scathing attack on Aucklanders on Sunday, suggesting that they don't deserve to keep the tournament.

The Cowboys lost 25-12 to the Storm in the last of the quarterfinals on Sunday, with the match played in front of around 20,000 spectators.

Thurston, one of the ambassadors for the Nines, said he was shocked that more people hadn't come to Eden Park to watch the rugby league festival and that the NRL would be better off taking the tournament to a city that would get behind it.

"It's a great way to kick off the year, but I'm pretty disappointed with the turnout of the crowd," Thurston said.

"If that's the type of crowd that's going to be turning up, then I reckon we should be taking it to elsewhere, like Asia. Get over there for a week and try to grow the game.

"You can see this is a great spectacle, but if there's going to be the turnout like this, then take it elsewhere, where we can grow the game."

As for Nines as a game and event, Thurston was full of praise, although he believes the future of this tournament should lie elsewhere.

"It's a great weekend, the fans, players really enjoy it," he said. 

"It was only my first experience, I had a lot of fun, but we got beaten by a better side today and that's the way footy goes.

"I think we can grow this elsewhere."

The most thrilling of the quarterfinals was the one between the Broncos and Roosters. 

The Roosters, who weren't expected to do much this weekend, went up 15-0 at halftime, thanks to three tries.

But the Broncos mounted a comeback in the second half. Jordan Kahu scored the first try, Mitch Cronin got the second, from an attack that started inside the Bronco's 10m line and with a couple of minute left to go Sam Lavea got the third.

All that needed to happen to book a spot in the semis was for Kahu to kick the conversion from out in front.

However, he wasn't able to put it over before the 25-second clock shot ran out and as the ball sailed between the posts, the officials were already ruling the conversion out and the Roosters won 15-14.

In the other quarterfinals, the Panthers beat the Sea Eagles 16-12 and the Eels smashed a Titans missing Jarryd Hayne 14-0.

In the first semifinal between the Panthers and Eels, Waqa Blake scored a stunning 60m try, showing great footwork to get through the Eels defence.

Four minutes into the second half Malakai Watene-Zelezniak won a foot race for the Panthers' second try and when Blake got his second try of the match a few minutes later the game was over, with the Panthers winning it 13-0.

In the other semi, Joseph Manu and Tupou scored tries for the Roosters in the first half against the Storm, but Joshua Addo-Carr produced a scintillating run a minute before the break.

Toupou's second came with five minutes left in the match, Mark Nicholls scored for the Storm with just over a minute to go, but the Roosters grabbed the win when Lewis ran the length of the field from the kick off for yet another remarkable try this weekend.

Final score, 19-16 to the Roosters.

Meanwhile, the Jillaroos won all three games against the Kiwi Ferns, making it zero wins from six for the New Zealand teams over the weekend.