Weekend Herald

Raiders see off Roost­ers’ hopes

- Sports · Rugby · National Rugby League · Rugby League · Sydney Roosters · Canberra Raiders · Canberra · Sonny Bill Williams · North Adelaide Football Club · Melbourne Storm · Rural and Industries Bank of Western Australia · Josh Morris · South Sydney Rabbitohs · Penrith Panthers · Parramatta Eels

22 Raiders 18 Roost­ers

The Syd­ney Roost­ers’ dream of an NRL three- peat is over af­ter a 22- 18 de­feat to the Can­berra Raiders last night.

In a re­peat of last year’s grand fi­nal, Can­berra started with an in­ten­sity the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons strug­gled to match, and the Raiders raced to a 16- 0 lead in­side the open­ing

22 minutes at the Syd­ney Cricket Ground.

Josh Pa­palii and Joseph Tap­ine were out­stand­ing for the Raiders, both scor­ing strong solo tries, while a Pa­palii offload was also in­stru­men­tal in Ge­orge Wil­liams touch­ing down for his side’s sec­ond.

Sio­siua Taukeiaho was one of the few Roost­ers for­wards match­ing it in the mid­dle of the park but he was forced off with a se­ri­ous knee in­jury around the half- hour mark, re­placed by Sonny Bill Wil­liams.

Can­berra full­back Charnze Ni­col­lKlok­stad also im­pressed, with the for­mer War­rior mak­ing a try- sav­ing tackle as the Roost­ers were re­pelled for most of the first half.

His op­po­site James Tedesco gave the Roost­ers hope with a 35th- minute con­verted try set up by a run down the left wing and as­tute in­field kick from Josh Mor­ris. That closed the gap to 16- 6 at half­time.

The Roost­ers posed a much sterner chal­lenge in the sec­ond half.

Joey Manu closed the gap to just four points when he took ad­van­tage of some weak Can­berra de­fence in a

30m run to the line.

But a 78th- minute Jack Wighton try put the Raiders back in con­trol.

He pounced on a Ge­orge Wil­liams grub­ber that bam­boo­zled the oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent Tedesco to ground the ball in goal.

But the Roost­ers weren’t quite done yet.

Tedesco scored his sec­ond of the match with six minutes re­main­ing, with Sonny Bill Wil­liams of­fload­ing close to the line, as the gap again closed to four.

But the Raiders kept the game tight enough that the Roost­ers were never given an op­por­tu­nity to snatch victory at the death.

The Roost­ers had looked strong ti­tle con­tenders as re­cently as three weeks ago on the back of a five- match un­beaten run which in­cluded an 18- 6 win in Can­berra on Septem­ber 5.

But then fin­ish­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son with a record- break­ing 60- 8 thrash­ing by the South Syd­ney Rab­bitohs sud­denly desta­bilised their cam­paign.

That was fol­lowed by a 29- 28 loss to the Pen­rith Pan­thers in week one of the play­offs, which saw the Roost­ers last night on the brink of a rare three de­feats in a row.

The Raiders ad­vance to play the Mel­bourne Storm next Fri­day in one of two pre­lim­i­nary fi­nals.

The Rab­bitohs take on the Par­ra­matta Eels at Bankwest Sta­dium at 9.50pm tonight, with the win­ner of that match squar­ing off in a week against Pen­rith, with the minor pre­miers on a 16- game win­ning run.

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