For a cold evening in Canberra, both sides brought the heat. Unfortunately, they chose to do it for only a half each. Canberra benefited from the Roosters missing players and the Roosters were actually awarded penalties, which led to much confusion.
Point 1: The Roosters will rue a missed opportunity. Canberra can only play the team in front of them, that said, the Roosters tackling was absent in key parts and led to them missing more than double the number of tackles. These misses were crucial to gifting the lead established by Canberra. Their second half was an improvement in effort but even then, missed tackles let off the pressure valve at critical times.
Point 2: The Raiders showed why they are not top tier. Every win in this game is tough, but the Raiders were not just facing a team missing 5 players, but their five best. Missing key playmaker, Mitchell Peirce and knowing his replacement has both limited game time and experience, the Roosters did well to keep Connor Watson away from being exposed. Barely noticed but also not a weak link. The majority of the replacement players were treated with too much respect and they were failed to be exploited or pressured.
Point 3: Jordan Rapana is redefining the wing position. The traditional wing normally applies three layers of sunscreen and takes a run every thirteenth set of six for some cheap yards so the jersey is dirty enough to make sure he is not mistaken for a fan. Rapana has this season injected himself as a hybrid wing/centre role and is not afraid of earning the hard yards. With the size of a lock/second rower, he was key to the Raiders win today, getting two tries and also was second in metres run. Quieter in the second half, he was watched and covered closely, but he had done the damage required.
Point 4: What could this game have been. At full strength both sides would have made this a clash that would have been worth paying the entry fee for. Nothing against those players called up to replace the stars, but if you are a rookie being called in to replace a quality player, you will rarely be able to make an impact. This is harder if the player you line up against is a regular, who would be relishing introducing the rookie to the pace of NRL. Combined with limited interchange and the quality of game decreases. These rounds never are great displays of Rugby League and devalue the product.
Final Score: Canberra Raiders 24 defeated Sydney Roosters 16
Tries: Rapana (2), Croker, Sezer.
Conversions/Penalties: Croker 4/5.
Tries: Friend, Manu, Mitchell