NRL Round 27: Roosters 26, Rabbitohs 12

The latest edition of the Book of Feuds has ended with the Roosters triumphant, and as a bonus they also knocked out their rivals South Sydney from finals football for 2023, while keeping their hopes alive after a fifth straight win.

Result

Sydney Roosters 26
Tries: (5)
Corey Allen 8th; Junior Pauga 38th; James Tedesco 46th; Billy Smith 70th; Sam Walker 75th
Goals: (3) Joseph Suaalii 28th, 47th, 76th

South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Tries: (2) Cameron Murray 20th; Michael Chee Kam 56th,
Goals: (2) Lachlan Ilias 21st, 57th

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Report

The Roosters opened the scoring in the eighth minute after a scrappy opening to the game, and the try came courtesy of Alex Johnston dropping a cross-field kick back into the in-goal: former Rabbitoh Corey Allen pounced on the ball to score. The score remained 4-0 after Joseph Suaalii shanked the conversion.

Whilst the scrappiness continued, there was a big moment for the Rabbitohs in the 18th minute when Blake Taaffe left the field after a combination of copping an accidental knee and additional faceplant into the turf as he powered towards the Roosters’ line. He did not return. It didn’t affect South Sydney straight away as the next set Cameron Murray exploded onto the football from 10 metres, pierced the Roosters’ line, scored beside the posts. The conversion from Lachlan Ilias gave Souths the lead 6-4.

Things evened things up in the 27th minute with a penalty goal for an escort, South Sydney paying for the company this time, and the score was 6-6 with neither side on top. The Rabbitohs might have been had they not dropped the ball on the first play after a ruck infringement more than once. But the game was brutal, with some solid hits forcing the errors: Izaac Thompson’s on Billy Smith a highlight.

The Roosters snatched the lead with two minutes to half-time when winger Junior Pauga dived over in the corner after a long cut-out pass from Sam Walker. Suaalii missed the sideline conversion and the half-time score was 10-6.

It didn’t take long for the Roosters to extend their lead in the second, as Luke Keary set up a line break for Pauga, who found James Tedesco on the inside – the Roosters fullback somehow managed to score as he crawled and dragged Rabbitohs defenders over the line. Suaalii added the two points for a 16-6 lead, and the Roosters were well on top.

South Sydney grew into the half and eventually their dominance in possession told as Michael Chee Kam crashed sliced through the Roosters defensive line after running off a Cody Walker pass. Lachlan Ilias made it two from two to close the contest to 16-12 with just over 20 minutes to play. The Rabbitohs continued their dominance of ball and territory for a sustained period after that try – they should have scored again but couldn’t get their act together in attack.

The Roosters punished them for their waste in the 70th minute when Billy Smith powered through the Rabbitohs’ defensive line, with James Tedesco throwing the final pass, the critical missed tackle coming from Campbell Graham. Suaalii missed another conversion, but his team still led by eight points with eight minutes to go.

Salt was added to the wound with five minutes to go when Walker scored a deserved try with a chip-and-chase close to the line that rebounded off Jai Arrow into his arms. The post try celebration of a scuffle between the sides didn’t look pre-arranged and the only fallout was Suaalii’s extra two points to make it 26-12.

The Sydney Roosters moved into the top eight for the time being at the expense of their biggest rivals, but they still need favourable results from other games to remain there for the first week of the finals. If they make the finals, after five wins in a row, they look capable of troubling the other top eight sides. The turnaround has been a super effort from the Roosters, as they were 14th as recently as Round 22.

For South Sydney it is the end of the line for 2023, and an exit they deserve to a degree, such has been the slide in form since leading the competition half a season ago in Round 11. For whatever reason the Origin period killed their season effectively and they were not the same team since. Friday’s loss to their main rival was a reasonable example of most of their second half of the season.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Sam Walker (Roosters)
2 – Luke Keary (Roosters)
1 – James Tedesco (Roosters)

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