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A James Tedesco masterclass almost subjected his soon-to-be teammates to a disappointing loss. Yet a late try to Latrell Mitchell saw the Roosters maintain their spot in the Top Four with a 22-18 win over the Tigers on Saturday night in front of over 9,000 fans.
Both sides opened Saturday night's clash with serious desperation in defence, with the Tigers looking to push further away from the Wooden Spoon and the Roosters aiming for a Top Two spot. It started in the fourth minute when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves burst through the line and was only denied by a great try-saving effort from soon to be teammate James Tedesco. Only minutes later it was the Tigers who would save a try. Michael Chee-Kam showed some serious pace to get past Aidan Guerra and he found Malakai Watene-Zelezniak backing up in support.
Yet, Blake Ferguson scrambled well to somehow deny the winger what appeared a certain try. However, despite their early commitment, the Tigers would eventually concede when Waerea-Hargreaves broke through the line once again and this time popped a late offload for a sneaky Mitchell Pearce who would dive over under the posts for a brilliant early try. They almost went back-to-back after Latrell Mitchell streaked down the sideline and kicked inside for returning fullback Michael Gordon. However, Gordon couldn't handle it.
It did not matter as a mistake from David Nofoaluma on the ensuing scrum gifted the Roosters the chance to make amends. Pearce would send Guerra through off a beautiful short ball in the 16th minute to send the home side's lead out to 12-0. Despite a comfortable early lead, the Roosters would face a significant challenge in the 25th minute when both Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner were forced off the field for a HIA test and the pair would not return in the first half.
Even without them, the Roosters continued to dominate the early stages of this contest, with Ferguson taking a Pearce bomb and finding Mitchell Aubusson in support in the 28th minute. The Roosters had all the running yet a mistake by Jake Friend off the kick-off gave the Tigers the chance to bounce back and a lovely cutout pass from Luke Brooks sent Josh Aloaia crashing over in the 31st minute.
Despite their early dominance, the Roosters' lead was reduced to just four at the break when Kevin Naiqama linked with Tedesco off a perfect inside ball, sending the fullback through untouched as the half-time siren sounded.
The game was very much in the balance in the opening stages of the second half with neither side able to execute key plays when given the chance. Yet, the Tigers would finally strike in the 60th minute. Tedesco made something out of nothing, sprinting around Ryan Matterson and breaking through the middle of the park before finding Tuimoala Lolohea in support off a questionable pass.
Tedesco was at it again, taunting his future fan base when he saved a certain try after Cordner raced away with four teammates in support only for Tedesco to knock down the inside ball. It appeared as if the Tigers would hold on for a brave win, yet the Roosters hit back in the 72nd minute when Gordon found space out wide and sent Mitchell sliding over in the corner in torrential conditions. In the end it would prove enough, with the Roosters holding on for a sloppy 22-18 win over a gallant Tigers outfit.
Next week, the Roosters travel to Cronulla to take on the Sharks on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Tigers host the Cowboys at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
Sydney Roosters 22 - Wests Tigers 18
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Halftime Score: Sydney Roosters 16 Wests Tigers 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - James Tedesco
2 points - Latrell Mitchell
1 points - Blake Ferguson
SYDNEY ROOSTERS (22)
Tries: Mitchell Pearce, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Latrell Mitchell
Conversions: Michael Gordon (3/4)
WESTS TIGERS (18)
Tries: Josh Aloiai, Tuimoala Lolohea, James Tedesco
Conversions: Tuimoala Lolohea (3/3)