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2021 NRL Round 25, Raiders 16 Roosters 40 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews a good win for the Roosters as the Raiders fail to keep their finals hopes alive.

SCOREBOARD

Raiders 16

Tries: Elliott Whitehead (5) Josh Papalii (18) Harley Smith-Shields (78)

Goals: Jordan Rapana (6 pen, 19)

Roosters 40

Tries: Matt Ikuvalu (10) Angus Crichton (24) Adam Keighran (32, 46, 50) Ben Marschke (66) Lachlan Lam (75)

Goals: Adam Keighran (13 pen, 26, 34, 40 pen) Siosiua Taukeiaho (52, 67)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Adam Keighran (Roosters)
2 pts – James Tedesco (Roosters)
1 pt – Drew Hutchison (Roosters)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The final round kicked off in Mackay which is known for its links with the Sugar Industry, and the Canberra Raiders were hoping to turn their Thursday night into a sweet experience. Despite the calculations saying they could lose and make the finals, they really needed a win for that final top eight spot. The Roosters were also fighting to stay in the top four. So plenty to play for to open up Round 25.

Canberra had the upper hand in the first minutes and turned it into points. After getting good ball and territory from a Roosters mistake and a set restart, the Raiders went on the attack on the Roosters line. Play looked to have broken down when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad pulled off a great offload and Elliott Whitehead was in the right spot to receive the ball, and fought his way over the line. The Raiders had an early 6-0 lead.

It didn’t take long for the Roosters to reply, or so it appeared. Adam Keighran was awarded a try, being on the scene after Daniel Tupou batted a cross field kick back. But video evidence after the try was awarded showed Keighran had dropped the ball, but the video also revealed a penalty for an escort so Roosters got the ball back.

The very next set it looked like Canberra had scored but it was also called back. This time the Raiders had intercepted the ball and ran the length of the field and scored the try before the players realised. It was called for offside by the defending Raiders team.

The next set after that the Roosters had actually scored, but not without additional drama. Winger Matt Ikuvalu finished off a move to the right featuring Lachlan Lam and James Tedesco. For his troubles Ikuvalu received some contact to the head from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s hip as he slid in to save the try. So the referee awarded an additional penalty, potentially handing the Roosters eight points. They missed the sideline conversion but got the second penalty kick and the score was 6-6.

Five minutes later, and after being handed another gift of ball and territory by a Roosters mistake, Canberra hit the front again. This time it was another forward Josh Papalii powering towards the line who had too much strength and determination for the Roosters. He ran from five metres out and dragged enough defenders to the line and slammed down the ball. The score was back out to 12-6 and the way the Roosters were hanging onto the ball, the Raiders might get a few more opportunities to score tries.

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But not long after the Raiders handed the Roosters the ball with a mistake, and the Roosters punished them by scoring. It was a move to the left, with a beautiful cut out pass thrown by Drew Hutchison which found Angus Crichton who threw a dummy instead of passing to his winger and strolled to the line. The sideline conversion nailed and the scores were level yet again.

The Roosters went ahead with just over five minutes to go in a move that looked similar to the try that Keighran had scored earlier but was disallowed. The cross field kick was supplied by Hutchison, and once again Tupou was in the best position to bat the ball back to Adam Keighran who was waiting patiently again. This time there was no trouble with the put down nor the sideline conversion, and the Roosters led 18-12.

For the record Jordan Rapana was placed on report from the play before, for contact on Sitili Tupouniua who had just kicked the ball into the in-goal. And the other Canberra winger Semi Valemei, was having an off night. With key errors and failure to deal with the high kicks and Daniel Tupou. It didn’t improve in the second half.

The Roosters got the chance to extend their lead by two points just before the break, which Keighran did off the post. The Raiders did challenge the decision, and despite the eventual loss of the captain’s challenge, Whitehead continued to argue with referee well after the half had been finished.

HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 12 Sydney Roosters 20

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2nd Half

Things didn’t go well for the Raiders to get their second half started, as they lost Cory Horsburgh in the very first tackle of the half.

It didn’t improve, as Adam Keighran scored his second try of the night a few minutes later to extend the Raiders lead. The try had been set up a few plays earlier after a signature James Tedesco charge through the Raiders central defence and ran 30 metres up the middle. Eventually they had an overlap on the left and went through the hands to Keighran. The Roosters centre couldn’t convert from the sideline.

Not long after Keighran had a hat trick of tries and the Raiders’ season was hanging on by a thread.

This one was the try of the night, a long range special. After a super offload by Daniel Tupou on his own 10 metre line, a waiting Hutchison found Keighran, who found a charging James Tedesco who carved up the middle yet again. Eventually he found Keighran backing up and his diagonal run towards the posts ended in another four pointer and some sore ribs as he smashed in the posts in his determination to score. The conversion made it 30-12.

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Canberra were trying hard to keep their season alive thereafter, but lacked quality, giving over too much ball through errors and penalties.

With an unlucky 13 minutes to go the Raiders season was officially over as the Roosters scored again. Hutchison was involved again, but this time there was no kick but a run close to the line and an inside ball found Ben Marschke who scored with ease. This was after the Roosters made easy progress down field after a Raiders error. Siosiua Taukeiaho converted and the lead was 24 points with half of that in minutes to play.

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As the game wound down the Roosters had time for one more try and break the 40 point barrier and set a hefty new scoring record for the Mackay ground. Lachlan Lam was the try scorer after Hutichison was involved again, as was Sam Walker whose first touch after coming on late was to throw a pass that rebounded off a Raiders defender and into the hands of Lam.

Canberra helped themselves to a consolation try to end the game and season, with Harley Smith-Shields getting the final four pointer. The Raiders threw the ball around in a move that started on their own 40 metre line and went through 12 sets of hands before the pick of the passes found Jack Wighton on the left who then found Harley Smith-Shields on the outside and the winger zoomed down the touchline to score.

The Roosters temporarily took over fourth position on the ladder, but will need both Manly and Parramatta to avoid victory to keep their place in the top four. It was an impressive performance by them all the same.

For Canberra it was another disappointing night in a very disappointing season. Hopefully a rebound awaits in 2022.

FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 16 Sydney Roosters 40

Injuries

to be advised

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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