The Canberra Raiders defeated the Sydney Roosters 22 – 18 to end their season with a massive grandstand finish at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The win to the Raiders ended the Roosters hopes of three premierships in a row, almost one year to the day since they defeated the Raiders in the Grand Final.
There were battles all over the park with some huge try-saving tackles, several disallowed tries and a massive effort by the Raiders men in the middle to take home the win.
Josh Papalii crashed over for the first try of the night off the back of an early penalty just five minutes in. Jarrod Croker successfully converted to put the Raiders up 6 – 0.
Luke Keary copped a head clash making the tackle on Papalii and was pulled from the field in what would have been a devastating blow for the Roosters. Keary re-entered the game with 25 to go in the first half of the sudden death final.
The Roosters worked their way down the field and earned a penalty on the last to keep the pressure on. Joseph Manu’s try attempt was sent to the bunker but the Raiders goal-line defence was all over it as they held on for another set.
The Raiders maintained the pressure, moving the ball down the left with another good kick chase and a perfect record with 10 from 10 completed sets.
George Williams was next to score off the back of an offload from Papalii that opened up the Roosters defence. John Bateman, Jordan Rapana and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad were all involved in the play, pushing up through the middle to get the ball away to Williams. Croker extended their lead to 12 – 0 with 19 to go in the first half.
A penalty against the Roosters helped the Raiders down the field as Siliva Havili crashed over but was held up in-goal. With a few tackles left in the set, they earned a set restart to maintain the pressure.
Joseph Tapine slipped through for a try in his 100th game as a Raider in what was a massive effort from him. The score remained 16 – 0 with a missed conversion by Croker.
An error by the Raiders gave possession to the Roosters in their first incomplete set after 25 minutes, but a knock-on off the kick gave possession to the Raiders. Out of sheer desperation, the Roosters unsuccessfully challenged the knock-on and the Raiders went on the attack.
The Raiders went on the attack again and Rapana looked certain to score, but the centre’s try wasn’t awarded as he hadn’t re-entered the field of play before catching the ball.
The physical clash saw Siosiua Taukeiaho helped from the field as Sonny Bill Williams entered the field with six to go before the break.
Brett Morris looked certain to score down the right, but Nicoll-Klokstad held him out with the help of the Raiders defenders who came from nowhere to keep him out.
James Tedesco scored for the Roosters after a massive 35 minutes off a line break and well-placed kick from Josh Morris to get the Roosters on the board. Kyle Flanagan added the two for a 16 – 6 scoreline.
The Roosters went on the attack again, putting the pressure on the Raiders this time, but a kick from Jake Friend went dead, awarding the Raiders a seven tackle set.
George Williams attempted a field goal with seconds left on the clock, but the wind pushed it away and the scoreboard was locked in 16 – 6 going into half time.
Papalii and Tapine had a massive first half, each playing 30 minutes, each scoring a try and both with 10 runs and 100 metres.
The Raiders came out firing in the second half and worked their way down the left side with Semi Valemei putting a kick into space that was cleaned up by Tedesco deep in the Roosters half.
As the Roosters worked it away from their goal line, Cotric and Rapana carried Josh Morris over the sideline to regain possession in Roosters Territory.
Sonny Bill Williams stripped the ball from Dunamis Lui and a subsequent penalty helped them down the field, but Elliott Whitehead pulled out a strip and the Raiders went back on the attack as they earned another penalty.
Jack Wighton crashed over for another disallowed try against a lead runner colliding with a defender and the Roosters held on again.
Joseph Manu was denied a second try 10 minutes into the second half for the fifth disallowed try of the night, three to Canberra and two to the Roosters as the teams try desperately to find some more points.
A last option kick from Tom Starling couldn’t be cleaned up by the Roosters and the Raiders earned back to back sets deep on Roosters territory. The kick from Williams was taken dead by the Roosters for another Raiders set as Papalii re-entered the field for his second stint.
Mitchell Aubusson cleaned up a Wighton kick and the Roosters travelled into Raiders territory, but their defence held strong and the Roosters couldn’t get through.
Manu cleaned up a stray Roosters pass, slipped through the Raiders defensive line and finally earned himself a try on his third attempt, after much deliberation from the bunker. Flanagan added the extra two for a 16 – 12 scoreline with 20 to go in the do or die final.
The Roosters earned a penalty and went on the attack, but a massive try-saving tackle on Josh Morris from Nicoll-Klokstad to keep the Roosters out with 13 left on the clock.
A huge kick from Williams into the in-goal couldn’t be cleaned up by Tedesco and Wighton dived over the Fullback to plant the ball down and put the Raiders ahead by 10 at 22 – 12 with nine to go.
The Roosters targeted the right side of the Raiders defence and a kick into the in-goal was knocked on by the Raiders, giving the Roosters another set with six minutes to go.
The Roosters weren’t done yet with Tedesco scoring off the back of an offload that put them back within four points with a successful conversion to Flanagan at 22 – 18 to the Raiders.
The Roosters went the length of the field and threatened to score again with three minutes left on the clock, but an offside player got involved in the play and the Raiders retook possession.
The Raiders chant went up with two minutes left on the clock as the Roosters tried everything to take the lead, with Tedesco coming up with a crucial error in the dying minutes of the game.
The Raiders will now look to take on Melbourne Storm as they inch closer to another Grand Final appearance.