Mitch Bourke reviews Sydney’s exhilarating win over Canberra. Here’s how the game went.
|5th||Try James Tedesco (Roosters)||Roosters 4-0|
|6th||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 6-0|
|9th||Try John Bateman (Raiders)||Roosters 6-4|
|11th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Scores tied 6-6|
|22nd||Try Daniel Tupou (Roosters)||Roosters 10-6|
|53rd||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 12-6|
|61st||Try James Tedesco (Roosters)||Roosters 16-6|
|62nd||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 18-6|
It’s only round 17, but GIO Stadium was the closest thing to a crystal ball, described post-game by milestone man Josh Morris as a “dress rehearsal for the finals” .
It didn’t disappoint.
With fourth spot and a double finals chance up for grabs, the intensity was sky-high and we were treated to a half for the ages.
Canberra narrowly won the possession and completion battles, but Sydney won on the scoreboard. The sides couldn’t be split.
All it took was one Semi Valemei error to draw the curtains on an even opening. The fourth-gamer lost possession 10 metres from his own line and James Tedesco pounced, punishing a scrambling defence.
John Bateman’s ad-lib brilliance meant Canberra wouldn’t have to wait for a reply, tying the game up.
Daniel Tupou used Nick Cotric as a stepladder to collect Kyle Flanagan’s inch-perfect chip with a specky that belonged on the MCG, re-assuming control for the two-time reigning premiers.
As the sun set on the first half, a Tupou error and Luke Keary penalty meant a Raiders retaliation beckoned, but it wasn’t to be, with Sydney taking a slender 10-6 lead at half-time.
Canberra bought their trademark grit, only conceding eight second-half points against an electric Roosters outfit. But it wasn’t enough as they struggled to hit the scoreboard, and were slain valiantly.
World-class fullback James Tedesco was the lead assailant, ensuring Josh Morris was able to celebrate his 300th in style with 227 run metres, 15 tackle-breaks, two line-breaks and two tries.
A 53rd minute 40-metre penalty goal from Kyle Flanagan made amends for his missed conversion, and stretched the margin to a converted try.
More than 2,000 Sonny Bill Williams-less days in the NRL were bought to an end when he was finally introduced by Trent Robinson in the 58th minute, albeit for a brief 13-minute stint.
The Raiders were dealt a killer blow when Flanagan’s lightning hands opened enough space for Tedesco to work his magic, evading Jack Wighton before collecting his grubber’s fortunate deflection and sliding home.
Wighton came tantalisingly close to moving Canberra within striking distance late, but couldn’t take control of George Williams’ chip.
The Raiders are left with a nervous wait as Josh Papalii will be sent for scans to determine the severity of an injury to his shoulder’s AC joint that saw him leave the field in the 30th minute and never return.
The win moves Sydney into third for the time being, and they appear to have secured a critical top-four berth, whilst Canberra remain in fifth and are less than likely to earn a double chance.
He was on the losing side, but John Bateman’s instinctive prowess turned heads early in the piece and provided Canberra’s only try. Jordan Rapana got his hands to George Williams’ chip and the Steeden found its way to Bateman via Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. With ball in hand, Bateman’s brilliant vision uncovered an unmanned in-goal and he didn’t hesitate, chasing down his own grubber to come up with points.
Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Jordan Rapana, 3. Jarrod Croker, 5. Nick Cotric, 21. Semi Valemei, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 14. Tom Starling, 10. Ryan Sutton, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 9. Siliva Havili, 15. Dunamis Lui, 16. Hudson Young, 17. Corey Harawira-Naera.
Sydney Roosters: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Brett Morris, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 14. Freddy Lussick, 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Sitili Tupouniua, 13. Isaac Liu. Interchange: 15. Lindsay Collins, 16. Nat Butcher, 17. Sonny Bill Williams, 18. Angus Crichton.