NSW's red, white and blue contingent produced thrills, spills and a likely heart palpitation for Origin coach Brad Fittler as the Roosters hung on for a manic 30-24 win over Canberra.
Magic round's marquee game descended into all-out mayhem as Latrell Mitchell struggled out of scoring his second try in 30 minutes, with a groin issue which saw him join Boyd Cordner (concussion) and Daniel Tupou (neck) in the sheds before halftime.
After all that, the Roosters helped themselves a 30-6 lead as James Tedesco simply kept cutting Canberra to ribbons, only for the Raiders to return serve with a flurry of three second-half tries that nearly ran down the premiers.
With Origin I less than a month away and NSW already scouring the game for a fit right centre and winger, the sight of Mitchell barely able to hobble, let alone walk, had Fittler's selection headache starting to match that of Kevin Walters.
Match: Roosters v Raiders
Round 9 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- LIVE PASS
By the hour-mark Mitchell had more than eased any looming migraine, leaping for a bomb in his first minute back on the paddock.
There was no such return for Cordner, whose heavy concussion in the 12th minute left him prone on the Suncorp Stadium turf.
When one-time Blues winger Tupou was stretchered off, then taken to hospital as a precaution around the neck issue picked up in an awkward tackle, second rower Angus Crichton found himself shuffled to the wing, coach Trent Robinson preparing to work with one fit bench player for the second half.
Ricky Stuart had his own injury issues to manage, a suspected PCL rupture for Jordan Rapana ending his afternoon early as well.
Mitchell injures groin when scoring
Amongst all the drama Tedesco was nothing less than a class above.
With two try-assists in the opening seven minutes – the first a cut-out ball for Matt Ikuvalu, the second a scything run through the Raiders ruck that put Cooper Cronk under the posts – the NSW No.1 set the most ominous of tones.
And he simply didn't stop. Nor did the drama.
After Jarrod Croker returned serve via a slick Canberra left-edge shift, penalty goals were traded and tempers began to flare.
Mitchell had a few words to say on a 21st minute penalty try – Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad pinged for illegally kicking at the ball as the Roosters gun planted it down in the left corner.
Tedesco was front and centre again when the Roosters extended their advantage out to 24-6, busting through from 20 metres out before finding Mitchell for his second.
When Mitchell found the turf in the 27th minute, and then himself in all sorts after scoring, the injury crisis headlines wrote themselves.
After the break Tedesco again ensured he was among them as well, adding a try of his own after a break out wide by young gun Sitili Tupouniua.
Tedesco breaks up the middle and sets up Cronk
Just for good measure, the Raiders threatened one hell of a comeback, not to mention a rewrite.
Nicoll-Klokstad started the fightback, dummying and spinning out of two tackles from 10 metres out, drawing Canberra back to a 30-12 deficit.
When Jack Wighton grubbered and regathered in the 65th minute, the Raiders footsteps beat loud as the depleted Roosters wearied.
A Josh Papalii charge and pop pass out wide sent Michael Oldfield over for a grandstand finish.
They almost pulled it off too, Mitchell of course among the drama when his final pass for an Ikuvalu try was dubiously called forward.
Cue Canberra marching down to the other end and an overlap putting Nick Cotric away out wide, only for his own effort to sail forward, a suitably manic end to 80 minutes of magic.