The Sydney Roosters have survived a mounting injury toll and a fast finishing Canberra Raiders side to secure a 30-24 victory in the seventh game of NRL Magic Round.
A battle between first and fourth awaited Sunday's Magic Round crowd but the first half showed a great distance between the Roosters and the Raiders as the premiers took a 24-6 lead into the break.
The Roosters had opened the scoring in just the sixth minute after they looked to shift the ball right and they took advantage of the extra numbers where Cooper Cronk was able to find fullback James Tedesco, who threw a lovely out to Matt Ikavalu who scored in the corner. They then added a second try within the first ten minutes when Cronk went through a gap after the Raiders had rushed up in defence and after the Latrell Mitchell conversion, they took a 10-0 lead.
Canberra were able to bring the margin back down to six points after Jarrod Croker was able to cross for their opening try, and despite missing the ensuing conversion, he was able to close the gap to four when he added a penalty goal minutes later to bring it back to 10-6.
The concerns mounted for the reigning title holders as captain Boyd Cordner left the field after being heavily concussed before the Raiders' penalty goal, but at the time it didn't stop the Roosters scoring with Latrell Mitchell adding their own penalty goal before they were then awarded a penalty try after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was ruled to have used his boot illegally to stop the try, and therefore a penalty try was the decision from the Bunker. The Bondi side then added another try but yet another injury concern appeared as Latrell Mitchell looked to have seriously injured his groin in scoring and was struggling to walk.
The injury headache grew for coach Trent Robinson as Daniel Tupou left the field on a medicab and then went to hospital after suffering a neck injury after a crusher-type tackle from Michael Oldfield, which saw the Raiders winger placed on report. The delay was nearly five minutes but neither side made much impact.
The Roosters were boosted with Latrell Mitchell returning to the field mid-way through the half, but they were only able to score once after the break, and that came in just the second minute following the resumption of play. Sitili Tupouniua broke through the line and found Tedesco who scored their fifth.
The impact of playing with only one or two players on the bench came back to hurt the Roosters as they began to tire and the Raiders added three tries late on. The first Canberra try with 25 minutes left came when Nicoll-Klokstad went through to score off the back of some good play by Sam Williams to drag in the defence.
They added another try with 15 minutes to go when Jack Wighton put a grubber kick in behind the line and chased through to score and closed the gap back to 12 after Croker's conversion. They then set the game up for a grandstand finish when Oldfield scored after Josh Papalii had made a good run and found Whitehead who in-turn found Oldfield to score.
Both sides had chances in the final minutes to score with Ikavalu denied a try for the Roosters after a forward pass ruling and then the Raiders went through the Roosters left-hand defence before Nick Cotric tried a basketball style pass that went miles forward and the Roosters survived.
Next weekend, the Roosters are back at Suncorp Stadium up against the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night, whilst the Canberra Raiders are hosting the South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.