Raiders revenge ends the Roosters reign

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Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders

Canberra has ended the Sydney Roosters three-peat hopes after overcoming the defending premiers 22-18 in an extraordinary semi-final match at the SCG tonight. 

The Raiders showed tremendous resolve late in the game, after the Roosters threatened to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on several occasions. Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was the hero for the men in green, with the Kiwi fullback producing two sensational try saving tackles which proved the difference between the two sides. 

The 2019 Grand Final replay was hyped as the match of the year and the chance for Canberra to extract some revenge from last year's heartbreaking loss. Canberra made a statement early when front row enforcer Josh Papali'I opened the scoring in the opening minutes, when the firebrand prop steamrolled over the line to give his side the lead. Croker converted and it was 6-0. 

Papali'i was involved again in the Raiders second try, when the Queensland forward bounced off three defenders and to find John Bateman in support. Bateman then linked with his fullback Nicoll-Klokstad who broke through. The Raiders custodian then delivered the final pass to George Williams in support, who scored next to the posts to double their early lead to 12-0 after 20 minutes. 

The Roosters were struggling to keep pace and things got worse for the defending premiers, when Joseph Tapine picked up a loose pass on the bounce. Tapine then fended away from Luke Keary, then Josh Morris and Keary again to score a sensational solo try that will be surely a career highlight for the Raiders lock. Croker missed the conversion missed the conversion but it was 16-0.

Finally recognising they needed to find something - and fast - the premiers then began to pick up the tempo, but not before another close call, when the Raiders were disallowed a Jordan Rapana try, when replayed showed the winger collected a Tom Starling pass outside the field of play. 

Just as the halftime break approached however, the Roosters flexed their muscle, when a superb cut out pass from Luke Keary put Josh Morris away down the left-hand side. The veteran centre then placed a banana kick inside for a flying James Tedesco who caught the ball on the full to score a sensational try under the posts. Flanagan converted to give the Tricolours a huge boost heading into the sheds. 

The game continued to be an arm wrestle early in the second half and it wasn't until Joey Manu broke the game open, when the Kiwi centre picked up a loose pass 20 metres out. Manu managed to swat away from opposite Jarrod Croker to bounce over for a try beside the posts. Flanagan converted to narrow the gap to four points with 20 minutes remaining. 

The defending premiers were coming for the Raiders, and they seemed certain to tie up the scores when Josh Morris made a break down the left-hand side. The Roosters centre looked certain to score a trademark try in the corner until Nicoll-Klokstad made a superb cover tackle to put Morris into touch and save a certain try. The tackle proved a game changer, when the Raiders marched up the field and on the last George Williams rolled the ball in goal. The ball then took a wicked bounce away from James Tedesco at the back who fumbled, which saw Jack Wighton race through to score. Croker converted and Canberra were in front 22-12 with less than 10 minutes remaining on the clock. 

Big moments traditionally are owned by the big-name players and it was Sonny Bill Williams who rose his side off the canvass, when the dual international hit the line and produced a neat offload to Sitili Tupouniua who then found Tedesco in support to score his second try. Flanagan converted to set up a nail-biting finish. 

The Raiders managed to repel the wave of Roosters attack and Jack Wighton almost sliced through at the death. The run on the last was enough to keep the defending premiers deep in their own half. In one last Hail Mary play, Luke Keary kicked wide for a flying Brett Morris, however his opposite Nick Cotric rose high to mark the ball and seal a memorable win for the Green Machine. 

The three peat for the Roosters is over, and the Raiders march on to face the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium for a chance to avenge last season's dramatic Grand Final loss.

Sydney Roosters 18 - Canberra Raiders 22

Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Crowd: 18110
Halftime Score: Sydney Roosters 6 Canberra Raiders 16

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2 points - Josh Papali'i
1 points - Joseph Tapine

SYDNEY ROOSTERS (18)
Tries: James Tedesco (2), Joseph Manu
Field Goals:
Conversions: Kyle Flanagan (3/3)
Penalty Goals:

CANBERRA RAIDERS (22)
Tries: Josh Papali'i, George Williams, Joseph Tapine, Jack Wighton
Field Goals: George Williams (0/1)
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/4)
Penalty Goals:


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