Roosters win NRL title in controversial finish

Author
Radio Sport / Michael Burgess, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio Interviews,
Publish Date
Monday, 7 October 2019, 9:43AM
The Roosters celebrate James Tedesco's try. Photo / Getty

Roosters 14
Raiders 8

The Roosters have gone back to back, becoming the first team in 26 years to win consecutive NRL titles.

The Sydney team edged the Raiders 14-8, thanks to a long range try to James Tedesco with seven minutes to play, which came after the referees seemed to signal a repeat set to the Raiders, but changed their mind.

It was a gripping contest, echoing the tension of the 2016 decider between the Sharks and the Storm.

The result was tough on the Raiders, who dominated the second half, but couldn't make the most of numerous chances, including a 10-minute spell with Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk - playing in his final NRL game - in the sin bin.

It had shaped as a classic, especially for the potential story lines. The Roosters were looking to become the first team since the 1992-93 Broncos to win back to back premierships, while the Raiders hadn't tasted premiership glory for a quarter of a century.

It was crucial that Canberra started well – with only one player in their squad with grand final experience compared with 14 Roosters – but they were denied by a stroke of bad luck. After both teams traded vigorous opening sets, the Sydney team were gifted vital field position when a Raiders chargedown was blocked by a Roosters' trainer, which, by a quirk of the rules, meant a scrum near halfway.

The Roosters' attacking machine then clicked into gear, and after Boyd Cordner was held up on the left flank, rookie hooker Sam Verrills darted over near the right hand upright after seven minutes.

The Raiders' nerves showed early. Hodgson threw a half volley to Josh Papalii and Nick Cotric made knocked the ball over the sideline, when he didn't need to play at it.

Canberra then worked their way into arm wrestle, though a Latrell Mitchell penalty extended the Roosters advantage after a Joseph Tapine high tackle.

The Eastern Suburbs team were pushing the limits, as they often do, but their persistent offside play went unpunished, as well as a blatant swinging arm on Aidan Sezer.

But the Raiders lifted a gear, and Jack Wighton slashed between two defenders to cross after 30 minutes and enliven the atmosphere, with the majority of the crowd decked out in lime green.

Canberra were then forced to defend three repeat sets – after a simple knock on – but hung on.

The biggest flashpoint of the game occurred in the 11th minute of the second half, with Cronk's sinbinning for a professional foul, after he tackled Papalii without the ball. It was a split second call – but followed a consistent pattern from throughout the season. Cronk, in his ninth grand final and playing in his NRL game, issued some instructions as he jogged off, while Jarrod Croker tied up the scores.

The Raiders couldn't take advantage of the extra man – as they seemed to overplay their hand, while the Roosters defended superbly in that period. Joey Leilua blew their best chance, as he ignored an unmarked Jordan Rapana and was stopped by Latrell Mitchell.

The Raiders dominated much of the second half, with former Warrior Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad outstanding in his forward surges. But they couldn't find a way through, with their left flank attack out of sync.

Mitchell missed a second penalty with 11 minutes on the clock – after a rare Roosters attacking foray. The Raiders had more chances, but couldn't take them, before Tedesco's spectacular long range try, which came after the referee blunder, having signalled a repeat set only to then take the ball away from the Raiders.

From the ensuing set Luke Keary sent Daniel Tupou free near halfway, with Tedesco on hand to finish for the 18th time this season, and the Roosters were good enough to see out the final six minutes.

Roosters 14 (S Verrills, J Tedesco tries, L Mitchell 2 cons, pen)
Raiders 8 (J Wighton try; J Croker con, pen)
Halftime: 8-6

Radio Sport Weekender

Radio Sport Weekender

9AM - 12PM