Sydney Roosters become the first team since 1992-93 Brisbane Broncos to win back-to-back Premierships after an engrossing Grand Final which ended 14-8 defeating a gallant Canberra Raiders in front of 82,922 fans at ANZ Stadium.
Sydney Roosters tackled their way to glory after their early 8-nil lead due to Sam Verrills four-pointer and a pair of Latrell Mitchell goals was pegged back. They denied Canberra with Cooper Cronk in the sin bin then one swift break saw James Tedesco score the match winner.
The huge wave of emotion was with the Green Machine, they packed out ANZ Stadium and were the sentimental favourite. Sydney Roosters blocked all that out and got themselves into their rhythm early in the contest. It paid off when Sam Verrills who was in the headlines due to the Jake Friend decision, repaid the faith coach Trent Robinson had and pounced for the opener.
A pair of kicks from Latrell Mitchell, and the Roosters were on the move to go back-to-back. From there, small cracks appeared in the reigning Champions. They lost their workhorse Mitchell Aubusson to an ankle injury then Victor Radley had to go off for a HIA, and the Raiders were coming.
Raiders started to scheme, and got themselves back into the contest. Clive Churchill medalist Jack Wighton, stepped off his right foot and got it back to 8-6. They followed that up with some half chances but the score remained going into the break.
Coming out of the break, Canberra continued to probe with Joseph Leilua burst through but was handled. Next, John Bateman steered across field and tried to find a rampaging Papalii, who on closer inspection, was tackled early. Cooper Cronk - retiring after tonight - was sent to the bin. Everything was trending to the Raiders as Jarrod Croker made it 8-8.
Then defense took the fore. Raiders threw everything they had at this Roosters defense. The moment came as Leilua surged through, created the two-on-one but his pass to Jordan Rapana went forward and the Roosters survived again.
Tackle. Tackle. Tackle was the mantra as they denied Wighton after a reversed six-again and delivered the knockout punch. From the next set, Keary-Mitchell-Daniel Tupou created the opening who turned it inside to who else? James Tedesco to score the match-winner. 14-8 and Roosters become the first side to go back-to-back.
Canberra will feel aggrieved after the reversed six-again but they will rue some missed opportunities. Tonight might be a loss for them but 2019 will live long in the memories for the Raiders fans once they digest this and have time to reflect.