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Penrith records 28-12 NRL win over Canberra Raiders as Newcastle and Melbourne Storm enjoy victories


The Penrith Panthers have beaten the Canberra Raiders 28-12 to match the club’s record of eight straight wins, again proving they are the genuine NRL premiership threat in 2020.

In what shaped as another acid test of their premiership credentials, the Panthers flexed their muscles in a powerful first half to play last year’s beaten grand finalists out of the match.

The win drew the Panthers level with the club’s best winning streak, set in 2003, while they also finish a fourth straight round in top spot on the ladder.

In Saturday’s earlier matches, Newcastle’s finals hopes were given a massive boost with the heavy 44-4 defeat of the Wests Tigers, while Cameron Munster sustained a knee injury in the Melbourne Storm’s 41-10 victory over Canterbury.

Against the Raiders, halfback Nathan Cleary was again brilliant for the Panthers.

He became the youngest player to pass 700 first-grade points since Graham Eadie way back in 1976 with his first goal, while his combination with Viliame Kikau proved lethal when he isolated his teammate one-on-one.

He was also superb in defence, once helping hold up Josh Papalii alongside Apisai Koroisau and another time putting Jordan Rapana into touch.

It was Cleary and Kikau who got Penrith on the board when the hulking second rower was unleashed from close range in the 10th minute.

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Koroisau had a hand in Penrith’s next try, darting out of dummy half and putting Liam Martin through a big hole.

And while the Panthers’ size and smarts are beating teams down in the middle, their speed and athleticism is doing the job out wide.

Stephen Crichton has 10 tries in his past eight matches and is now the NRL’s leading try scorer with 12, despite only getting his starting spot in round three.

The Panthers have now scored 10 tries on the right wing from the past five weeks, this time coming from Brent Naden with a classic on the sideline from a Tyrone May cut-out ball.

The Raiders, meanwhile, were not as bad as the scoreline suggested.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had a nervous start at the back on return from a gruesome finger injury, but scored both of the team’s second-half tries.

The loss leaves the Raiders in fifth place on the ladder, two points behind the Roosters in the race for the top four and with a far inferior for-and-against.

Knights humiliate Wests Tigers

The Knights’ comprehensive win at home simultaneously threw the Tigers into a tailspin to save their own season as the dismal display produced their third consecutive loss.

For Green, it was the second win in as many weeks over the Tigers after arriving at the Knights from the Warriors at the start of the week.

An old hand at fitting in quickly, Green slipped easily into attacking structures and set up the first try of the night and put up the kick for the second within the first 14 minutes.

His experience allowed the new-look spine to click as the Knights advanced to a 24-4 half-time lead before completing a 40-point rout.

Star full-back Kalyn Ponga was as dangerous as he has been all season, scoring two tries as well as setting up another two.

A Newcastle Knights NRL player grounds the ball as he scores a try against the Wests Tigers.
Kalyn Ponga touched down for two tries for the Knights against the Wests Tigers.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

His 194 run metres and three line breaks ripped through poor Tigers defence that did not do milestone man Chris Lawrence justice in his 250th NRL match.

In all, the Knights scored eight tries with Hymel Hunt, Starford To’a, Jacob Saifiti, Herman Ese’ese, Gehamat Shibasaki and Phonix Crossland also crossing over.

Half-back Benji Marshall, in his 250th appearance for the Tigers, had a particularly difficult night as his forward pack was thoroughly outmuscled.

Marshall and recalled halves partner Luke Brooks were targeted in defence, but had limited ball in attacking space to get points on the board.

The Tigers’ lone try was not a moment of brilliance and came just before half-time when Luciano Leilua kicked through a ball that ricocheted from Marshall’s boot to score.

Munster injury sours Storm win

Munster, a Queensland State of Origin representative, fell awkwardly in a tackle and is set to miss two matches.

The Storm were already without injured hooker Cameron Smith (shoulder), in-form full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen and forward Dale Finucane (both rested) on the Sunshine Coast.

Munster has already missed time with a knee injury this season and will now join Smith on the sidelines for next Thursday’s clash with the Sydney Roosters and possibly the following round against Parramatta.

The Munster injury did not fluster the Storm on Saturday, however, as replacement hooker Brandon Smith, back rower Kenny Bromwich (two tries) and new full-back Nicho Hines ran riot.

A Melbourne Storm NRL players has an anguished look on his face as he lies on the ground getting treatment on his right knee.
Cameron Munster will be sidelined after sustaining a knee injury against the Bulldogs.(AAP: Darren England)

The Bulldogs did not help themselves. Lachlan Lewis and Josh Jackson both threw loose passes that were scooped up by wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu respectively for long-range tries.

The first was one of three in five minutes to break the match open, while Vunivalu made up for some lazy play to close the first half just as the Bulldogs threatened a boilover trailing 23-10.

Addo-Carr then added salt to the Bulldogs’ wounds, winning the race to a long kick down-field to grab a brace.

Hines was as far back as fourth in the pecking order last season but was all class in the number one jersey with strong carries, assured kicking, safe hands and an early try.

Lewis’s forgettable match included being sin-binned and placed on report for a high shot on Munster.

The Bulldogs (2-11) remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder, while the win was the Storm’s (11-2) seventh straight.

AAP/ABC



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Panthers destroy Manly 42-12 as Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters score NRL wins


Penrith made sure it will finish round 12 on top of the NRL ladder following a comprehensive 42-12 defeat of Manly at Brookvale Oval.

Earlier on Saturday, Canberra showed its class to sneak home with a 14-12 win over North Queensland, while the Sydney Roosters survived an almighty scare from Gold Coast to escape with an 18-12 triumph.

The Panthers skipped three points clear of Melbourne and Parramatta on the ladder, although the Storm and Eels will play their respective round-12 fixtures on Sunday.

Charlie Staines, playing just his second NRL match, scored two tries in 25 action-filled minutes before limping off the field with a hamstring injury.

Nathan Cleary also put on a masterclass, setting up two tries and scoring one of his own in the second half when he regathered his own grubber.

But Staines was the main attraction.

He became the first man since South Sydney’s Don Manson in 1937 to score six tries in his first two matches.

In the time since his four tries on debut last month, the winger has spent two weeks in quarantine after having too many visitors in his home and then visiting Nepean Hospital with lockjaw.

But while Penrith shot out of the blocks to a 22-0 lead after 30 minutes, it was an absolute horror show for Manly.

Dylan Walker left the field with a foot injury just 10 minutes into his return from an issue higher up in the same foot, while Curtis Sironen hurt his knee and Brad Parker suffered a concussion.

The loss drops the Sea Eagles back out of the top eight and with a crucial few weeks ahead before Tom Trbojevic’s planned return in three matches.

Meanwhile, the performance was one of the best of Penrith’s season, with the Panthers completing at 91 per cent and playing expansive football.

Staines opened the scoring when he got the ball down in a tight space on the right edge in the 10th minute, then Cleary gifted him with a perfect lofted ball for his second.

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Cleary kicked a 40-20 before another try before one of his grubbers rebounded into Penrith hands and Viliame Kikau put on an offload for Stephen Crichton to score.

Isaah Yeo, Api Koroisau and Brent Naden also claimed tries in the demolition job.

Cherry-Evans was clearly Manly’s best.

He put Jake Trbojevic over with an inside ball for their only first-half try and kicked for Jorge Taufua for one in the second.

He also somehow held Kikau up to save one and stopped another when he chased down Naden after running 80 metres from a Lachlan Croker intercept.

Raiders hang tough to win up north

It was far from the Raiders’ best performance but they did enough to edge a willing Cowboys outfit, with both teams scoring two tries in Townsville.

The Cowboys threw everything at their opponents but too often let themselves down with their kicking options.

Gunning for their third successive victory, the Raiders looked as if they were suffering jet lag early on after their long match-day flight to Canberra.

They were caught out just two minutes into the match when North Queensland hooker Reece Robson dashed over the line from dummy half.

The Raiders found their groove to level in the 18th minute when half-back George Williams started and finished a 70-metre try, helped by a big charge and fend by winger Nick Cotric.

A 35th-minute penalty strike by captain Jarrod Croker allowed his team to take an 8-6 lead to half-time.

A North Queensland NRL player is tackled by three Canberra Raiders opponents.
Cowboys forward Jordan McLean tries to find a way through the Raiders defence.(AAP: Cameron Laird)

Canberra prop Josh Papalii was both hero and villain within two minutes, stripping the ball but then being placed on report for a forearm to the head of the Cowboys’ teenage full-back Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo steamed to the try line to put his side up but it was short-lived with the Raiders hitting back four minutes later.

England international John Bateman, playing his first match of the year after two rounds of shoulder surgery, found Curtis Scott, who fended off winger Murray Taulagi to score.

Sharpshooter Croker then showed his value, nailing the conversion from the sideline to put his side ahead again.

The final 12 minutes saw four captains’ challenges, with the Cowboys correct with both but they couldn’t find the points for a win or to take the match into golden point.

Roosters deny gutsy Titans

In an action-packed match laced with drama at the sCG, the Roosters overcame their crippling injury toll to preserve their place in the top four thanks largely to the heroics of classy centre Joseph Manu.

Already missing eight players from their 2019 grand final-winning outfit and with superstar signing Sonny Bill Williams holed up in quarantine, the Roosters lost try-scoring ace Josh Morris to a calf strain before this afternoon’s kick-off.

Fortunately the back-to-back premiers had Manu, whose leaping 58th-minute try and miracle first-half try saver on Phillip Sami saved the Roosters embarrassment.

The Titans could have bagged four first-half tries but had to settle for only one after blowing two and seeing Manu pull off his incredible rescue act before the break.

Jamal Fogarty was also denied a try in just the second minute, the half-back touching down only for the bunker to rule Titans teammate Brian Kelly had passed him the ball off the ground.

A Sydney Roosters NRL player tackles a Gold Coast Titans opponent holding the ball around the chest area.
Roosters hooker Jake Friend (left) tries to bring down Gold Coast lock Jai Arrow.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

But there was no denying Anthony Don eight minutes later when the prolific winger started and finished his own 75-metre effort.

After scrambling for much of the half, somehow the Roosters went to the break with a 10-6 advantage after half-back Kyle Flanagan added two penalties to his conversion of Mitch Aubusson’s try.

The Titans were reduced to 12 men for a second time in the match when Keegan Hipgrave was sin-binned for taking out Lindsay Collins.

The Roosters’ claims for a penalty try were denied but Flanagan’s two points made it 12-6 before Manu soared high to reel in Luke Keary’s cross-field bomb.

That appeared to seal the deal before Sami crossed with five minutes remaining to give Roosters fans a tense finish.

AAP/ABC



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Canberra Raiders score 14-12 NRL win over North Queensland as Sydney Roosters beat Gold Coast


Canberra has shown its class to sneak home with a 14-12 win over North Queensland in an NRL arm wrestle in Townsville.

Earlier in the afternoon, the depleted Sydney Roosters survived an almighty scare from an inspired Gold Coast Titans to escape with a vital 18-12 win at the SCG.

Up north, it was far from the Raiders’ best performance but they did enough to edge a willing Cowboys outfit, with both teams scoring two tries.

The Cowboys threw everything at their opponents but too often let themselves down with their kicking options.

Gunning for their third successive victory, the Raiders looked as if they were suffering jet lag early on after their long match-day flight to Canberra.

They were caught out just two minutes into the match when North Queensland hooker Reece Robson dashed over the line from dummy half.

The Raiders found their groove to level in the 18th minute when half-back George Williams started and finished a 70-metre try, helped by a big charge and fend by winger Nick Cotric.

A 35th-minute penalty strike by captain Jarrod Croker allowed his team to take an 8-6 lead to half-time.

Canberra prop Josh Papalii was both hero and villain within two minutes, stripping the ball but then being placed on report for a forearm to the head of the Cowboys’ teenage full-back Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo steamed to the try line to put his side up but it was short-lived with the Raiders hitting back four minutes later.

England international John Bateman, playing his first match of the year after two rounds of shoulder surgery, found Curtis Scott, who fended off winger Murray Taulagi to score.

Sharpshooter Croker then showed his value, nailing the conversion from the sideline to put his side ahead again.

The final 12 minutes saw four captains’ challenges, with the Cowboys correct with both but they couldn’t find the points for a win or to take the match into golden point.

Roosters deny gutsy Titans

In an action-packed match laced with drama, the Roosters overcame their crippling injury toll to preserve their place in the top four thanks largely to the heroics of classy centre Joseph Manu.

Already missing eight players from their 2019 grand final-winning outfit and with superstar signing Sonny Bill Williams holed up in quarantine, the Roosters lost try-scoring ace Josh Morris to a calf strain before this afternoon’s kick-off.

Fortunately the back-to-back premiers had Manu, whose leaping 58th-minute try and miracle first-half try saver on Phillip Sami saved the Roosters embarrassment.

The Titans could have bagged four first-half tries but had to settle for only one after blowing two and seeing Manu pull off his incredible rescue act before the break.

Jamal Fogarty was also denied a try in just the second minute, the half-back touching down only for the bunker to rule Titans teammate Brian Kelly had passed him the ball off the ground.

A Sydney Roosters NRL player tackles a Gold Coast Titans opponent holding the ball around the chest area.
Roosters hooker Jake Friend (left) tries to bring down Gold Coast lock Jai Arrow.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

But there was no denying Anthony Don eight minutes later when the prolific winger started and finished his own 75-metre effort.

After scrambling for much of the half, somehow the Roosters went to the break with a 10-6 advantage after half-back Kyle Flanagan added two penalties to his conversion of Mitch Aubusson’s try.

The Titans were reduced to 12 men for a second time in the match when Keegan Hipgrave was sin-binned for taking out Lindsay Collins.

The Roosters’ claims for a penalty try were denied but Flanagan’s two points made it 12-6 before Manu soared high to reel in Luke Keary’s cross-field bomb.

That appeared to seal the deal before Sami crossed with five minutes remaining to give Roosters fans a tense finish.

AAP/ABC



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Canberra Raiders edge South Sydney Rabitohs, Cronulla Sharks hold off St George Illawarra Dragons


Canberra’s casualty ward has picked up another high-profile patient, with Charze Nicholl-Klokstad suffering a sickening finger injury in the Raiders’ 18-12 NRL win over South Sydney.

The Raiders’ full-back picked up a suspected compounded dislocation of the little finger on his left hand in Canberra’s win on Saturday night.

The victory moved them to fifth on the ladder.

He was one of two Raiders full-backs to finish the game off the field, with Jordan Rapana also forced off due to a late head clash after moving back to deputise.

But just as they did last week against the Sydney Roosters, the Raiders proved they didn’t care for those who questioned their title credentials with a mounting injury toll.

In wet conditions, they scored eight-unanswered second-half points to overcome a 12-10 deficit at the break for their second-straight win.

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Fijian winger Semi Valemei scored the match winner with his maiden NRL try in just his second match, after Jarrod Croker had earlier kicked the Raiders level via a penalty goal.

Valemei was the beneficiary of an Elliott Whitehead kick out of dummy-half in the 57th minute which rebounded off Campbell Graham’s boot and into the winger’s hands.

The Raiders had earlier started the faster of the two teams, with Nick Cotric getting the game’s first try off a Jack Wighton bomb which Rapana batted back.

Canberra had a 10-0 lead when Adam Reynolds dropped a Wighton kick which looked likely to go dead and Croker was there to scoop it up and capitalise.

Wighton was again great for the Raiders at five-eighth, while Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui were powerful up front.

Dane Gagai nabbed a try in the first half, before Reynolds helped them to a 12-10 lead after back-to-back set restarts and a Jaydn Su’A offload.

But the Raiders found a way in the second half and ran over the top to win.

Dragons nearly steal miracle win, but Sharks hold on

St George Illawarra has gone close to pulling off an improbable comeback win over arch-rivals Cronulla, going down 28-24 in an enthralling affair in Kogarah.

The Dragons were down by four with two minutes to go on Saturday night when Matt Dufty failed to cleanly ground a Ben Hunt grubber with no one in sight.

A smiling Shaun Johnson is hugged and patted on the head
The Sharks nearly blew a massive lead, but held on to beat the Dragons.(AAP: Craig Golding)

Jason Saab then had a chance to steal the game with the final play when he soared to take a Corey Norman kick, but grounded the ball on the dead-ball line.

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor will also be left to rue a dubious try to Cronulla’s Jack Williams early in the contest.

The frantic last few minutes provided a thrilling finish to an entertaining contest at Jubilee Stadium, with the sides combining for nine tries in the wet conditions.

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Dragons centre Zac Lomax was involved in two contenders for the try of the year, but it was not enough to prevent the hot form of Sharks star Shaun Johnson.

The NRL leader in try assists added two more, taking his tally to 16, while he was involved in a third and scored a fourth himself in another stellar display.

The win may have come at a cost, though, with halfback Chad Townsend failing to finish the match after suffering a suspected calf injury.

Roosters run all the way by Warriors

Playing below their best, NRL premiers the Sydney Roosters outlasted a gutsy Warriors side for an 18-10 win in Gosford.

The Warriors led 10-6 at half-time, but the boot of Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary eventually weakened their defence on Saturday afternoon as Trent Robinson’s men escaped with the win late.

Jared Warea-Hargreave is being tackled by the ankles and chest by two Warriors opponents
The Roosters were made to work for their two points against the Warriors.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

Keary produced a try assist, a try and four repeat sets on the Warriors’ line in the second half to tire out the gritty defence.

Fireworks sparked late in the second half when Warriors loan prop Jack Hetherington took on Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in a personal battle up front.

The two came face-to-face, gripping jerseys, and made a mission to run at one another, raising the intensity late in the game.

Taking a hit-up with 10 minutes to go, the New Zealand international charged at Hetherington, who didn’t back down from the confrontation.

But the energy lifted the Roosters and, off a quick play-the-ball, Joseph Manu spotted space from dummy-half and raced over to score to extend the lead to 18-10.

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After a bitter battle in the middle, Manu’s try put the result beyond doubt for the Roosters, who had appeared less that their clinical best over the past few weeks.

It was the third-straight loss for the Warriors but a much-improved performance after last week’s 48-10 loss to Cronulla at Central Coast Stadium.

Departing Warriors winger Ken Maumalo scored the first try of the afternoon five minutes in when he ran over untouched in the left corner and it took almost 20 minutes for the Roosters to hit back.

And after some brilliant pressure from the Warriors, the premiers finally responded when a Keary bomb was cleaned up by replacement forward Sitili Tupouniua to score between the posts.

A try late in the second half for rising Warriors star Eli Kaota off a deceptive handball from Kodi Nikorima gave the home side the half-time lead.

The Roosters didn’t hit the lead until the 51st minute, when Keary put through a grubber to score and go up by two points with half-an-hour to play.

AAP



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Sydney Roosters showing cracks against top NRL teams like Canberra Raiders in attempt to three-peat


The Sydney Roosters have arguably taken the mantle from Melbourne as the most impressive organisation in the NRL.

It’s the sort of team that can lose a player and immediately pick up or develop another that perfectly plugs the gap, and looking at the past two-and-a-half seasons of dominance for the tricolours, their recruitment team has done a masterful job.

From the starting 13 of the 2018 premiership-winning side, there are only three players who are no longer at the club: Latrell Mitchell, Cooper Cronk and Blake Ferguson.

The rest are still in the team’s top 17, and only Mitchell Aubusson has shuffled to the bench to make way for high-profile signing Angus Crichton.

Ferguson was replaced by Brett Morris for last year’s premiership, Mitchell was replaced by Josh Morris for this year’s title run, and Cronk’s retirement was eased by the poaching of Cronulla young gun Kyle Flanagan.

Sydney Roosters Kyle Flanagan and Brett Morris high-five. Josh Morris looks on during an NRL game against the Brisbane Broncos.
Kyle Flanagan (centre) has been impressive in his first year as a full-time NRL player, but nobody’s perfect.(AAP: Darren England)

But while the number of losses incurred are very small in number, the toll of long finals runs is showing up some cracks in the foundations at Bondi.

Since the coronavirus shutdown, the Roosters have lost two games, to the Storm and Raiders — two teams who are legitimate contenders for the title — so this is not a eulogy for the premiers.

They are the champions until someone comes and takes the trophy, but this season and those two losses in particular have highlighted signs of human error in the usually automaton-like efficiency of the Roosters’ game plan.

After beating up on the Rabbitohs, Broncos and Bulldogs upon resumption, the first signs of fissures appeared in round six against the Eels.

It’s no coincidence that the two Parramatta tries scored that night came down the left flank, where Joseph Manu and Kyle Flanagan defend.

In round six, the Eels used Dylan Brown, Shaun Lane and Michael Jennings to exploit that avenue between the inexperienced halfback and the impulsive centre, who can appear out of step with those inside and outside him in the defensive line.

Manu was recently voted the best centre in the game in an NRL.com/Sydney Morning Herald players’ poll, so he clearly knows what he’s doing, but some bad reads against the Eels allowed tries and line breaks aplenty.

Miscommunication in attack between Flanagan and Manu against the Storm allowed Josh Addo-Carr to swoop on a loose pass to score his team’s opener two weeks ago, and even the Cowboys managed to take advantage of a Manu misread when he rushed out of the line into no man’s land, allowing Coen Hess to isolate and trample Flanagan.

Thursday night against Canberra was a mixed bag.

A male NRL player holds the ball with his right hand as he palms off an opponent in the face with his left hand.
Joseph Manu’s peers named him the league’s best centre, but his defence has been exploited by teams in recent weeks.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

In the 39th minute, a superb legs tackle by Flanagan on Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad masked a poor decision by the fullback not to give his winger the ball against a sliding, scrambling defence.

Manu had completely committed to taking the outside man when Flanagan pulled off an impressive, if low-percentage, tackle on Nicoll-Klokstad. The play earned the Roosters plaudits from commentators for the trust they showed in each other, but it wasn’t surprising to see the Raiders head back that way at their earliest convenience.

Minutes after halftime, Flanagan rushed up and in to try to close down an overlap. Manu didn’t match him until too late and flew out of the line to put a body on back rower Elliott Whitehead, leaving Brett Morris all alone to handle Jarrod Croker and Nick Cotric. This time Nicoll-Klokstad made the right call, grubbering through the line into the space created by Manu’s charge and Jarrod Croker touched down for the all-important first try after the break.

We saw the Raiders chip away at that trust between defenders again in the 66th minute, when hulking prop Josh Papalii strolled through the middle of the defence for the match-winning try.

Sure, he flashed some fancy footwork but the fact he wasn’t touched at any point in the 24 metres and five seconds between catching the ball and scoring the decisive try shows some issues in the defence.

Papalii caught the ball in the middle of the field and spied a gap between prop Lindsay Collins and back rower Mitchell Aubusson. Collins failed to recover fast enough after a decoy run attracted his attention off the ruck and Aubusson over-committed in apparently trying to protect Flanagan from having to deal with Papalii one-on-one.

Aubusson was doing the right thing, but when Papalii shifted off line he turned with all the grace and speed of an oil tanker to see Collins a second late and a few cents short.

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Aubusson was the number one reason Cronk was able to play in the 2018 grand final win over the Storm. He made sure his halfback, playing with a broken shoulder, only had to make nine tackles, while making 36 of his own. But after 13 years of filling every gap in the Roosters’ line-up, “Mr Reliable” struggled to plug the one that mattered last night.

After that, there were four pieces of sloppy ball handling that turned over possession, and still the Roosters could have won the game if not for a tight forward pass call in the 70th minute.

These aren’t mortal wounds and most of the teams in the NRL would give their right winger to have this be their biggest problem.

Improving communication and ensuring effort on both sides of the ball late in games are the sort of problems that coach Trent Robinson is more than capable of fixing.

Last year the Roosters went on a three-game losing streak that turned into five losses from seven games in the middle of the season, but Robinson tightened the screws and they won the next seven straight, with just one defeat in the last 11 games of the year en route to the premiership.

But with lock Victor Radley out for the season, Cronk retired, age coming for the engine room and the Morris brothers out wide, and a smaller player pool to pick from because of the coronavirus pandemic, the margin for error is slimmer than ever for the Roosters. And the rest of the league is looming, ready to take what’s theirs.

The Sydney Roosters lift the NRL trophy as glitter rains down.
The Roosters have the premiership the past two years.(AAP: Dean Lewins)



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Canberra Raiders defeat Sydney Roosters 24-20 in NRL grand final re-match at SCG



Undermanned but not uninspired, the Canberra Raiders got one back on the Sydney Roosters when they defeated last year’s premiers 24-20 in a grand final re-match.

A week after losing co-captain Josh Hodgson to a knee injury, the Raiders tackled their way to an upset victory at the SCG.

Missing at least eight players from their regular NRL line-up, the Raiders brought the worst out in the Roosters, who were uncharacteristically sloppy against the team they controversially beat in last year’s grand final.

The win minus stars such as Hodgson, Michael Oldfield, John Bateman and Curtis Scott to name a few will sit as one of the most gritty in the Raiders’ storied history.

Josh Papalii’s size and agility gave the Raiders the go-ahead try in the 66th minute, as the prop jinked through the defence untouched.

It was try-for-try before Papalii burst through the Roosters’ line from 20 metres out to score, breaking through Mitch Aubusson and Lindsay Collins to get the Raiders in front by four points.

It was a lead they would grimly hold on to as their defence remained defiant.

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Earlier, with scores level at 12-all, the Raiders were penalised when Papalii retaliated to an elbow to the face from Angus Crichton, while he struggled to play the ball.

With a bloody nose, the Queensland prop laid a forearm around Crichton’s face and was penalised in front of the posts for his trouble, allowing the Roosters to go ahead by two points.

Crichton was lucky to escape unpunished after earlier giving away a penalty for a high shot on Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton, with the Raiders scoring in the next set.

Brett Morris, who scored two tries for the Roosters, also copped a pair of tough knocks, which landed both Wighton and halves partner George Williams on report.

On the other edge for the Roosters, twin brother Josh Morris got in on the action when he delivered a brilliant flick pass for Matt Ikuvalu to score and snatch back the lead in the 58th minute, the last of points scored by the Roosters.

For Ikuvalu, it was his sixth try in two matches after he scored five against North Queensland in Townsville last Thursday night.

The Roosters will next meet the Warriors in round 11, while the Raiders tackle South Sydney.

AAP/ABC



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Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart unhappy with Bailey Simonsson sin bin in NRL loss to Melbourne Storm


The NRL bunker will have questions to answer after attracting almost consensus disapproval over a crucial decision to send a Raiders player to the sin bin on Saturday night against the Storm.

In the 28th minute of Melbourne’s 20-14 win at Canberra Stadium, Storm half Ryley Jacks kicked through the line for winger Josh Addo-Carr.

Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson turned to chase the ball and he and Addo-Carr collided just before the tryline, with the incident sent to the bunker for further review.

While in real time it appeared to be worth a penalty and the possibility of a penalty try was even floated, the replays showed Simonsson only had eyes for the ball despite coming into contact with Addo-Carr.

“He’s going for the ball and he gets tangled up with the arms and the legs and brings Josh Addo-Carr down,” former Storm star Cooper Cronk, who was a victim of a dubious sin-binning in last year’s grand final against the Raiders, said in commentary for Fox Sports.

“There’s no doubt that Simonsson’s playing for the ball.”

After the bunker ruled no try but decided that Simonsson had committed an intentional foul off the ball, forcing a sin-binning, fellow Fox commentator Greg Alexander said it was Addo-Carr, running slightly in-field from the sideline, who had actually instigated the contact.

A screenshot of Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson and Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr competing for the ball.
On replay, Bailey Simonsson clearly only had eyes for the ball.(Supplied: Fox Sports)

“He doesn’t know Addo-Carr is there. He turns late and he takes three or four steps, the ball’s there, he’s lunging for the ball Addo-Carr runs into him,” the former Penrith and NSW half-back said.

On the field, Raiders captain Jarrod Croker’s response to referee Grant Atkins announcing the 10-minute break for Simonsson was measured, simply saying it was a “harsh” call, while Simonsson asked “what for?” when told he had to leave the field.

To make matters worse, hooker Josh Hodgson went down with what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury in the lead-up to the incident.

The Storm took advantage of Simonsson’s absence to touch down where he would have been defending less than a minute later.

“The try when we had a man down, we should have never been a man down, there was no way in the world he should have been sent to the sin bin,” Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said.

The NRL bunker flashes the "NO TRY" signal as a split screen shows Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
The bunker’s “no try” ruling was the right one, but the other decision made was tough to swallow for Ricky Stuart (top right).(Supplied: Fox Sports)

“I don’t want to make a big issue of it but I just don’t understand how we use all this technology and money and still get it wrong.

“There was no way Bailey Simonsson should have been sent from the field when he was going for the ball.

Premiership player Michael Ennis said on the television coverage there was “no way in the world that was a professional foul” and Mal Meninga said video referees Ben Galea and Steve Chiddy simply “got it wrong”.



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Canberra Raiders beaten by Melbourne Storm as Josh Hodgson goes down with suspected ACL injury



Josh Hodgson’s NRL season is likely after he sustained a knee injury in Canberra’s 20-14 loss to Melbourne in a horror night for the Raiders.

Hodgson finished Saturday night on crutches after suffering a likely ACL tear, as the Raiders suffered a controversial loss with a crucial first-half call going against them.

With scores level at 6-6 and 13 minutes to play in the first half, Hodgson went down on his right knee as he changed direction and tried to tackle Cameron Smith.

It headlined a frustrating few moments for the Raiders.

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In the same set, Bailey Simonsson was ruled by the bunker to have taken Josh Addo-Carr out while chasing a grubber near the tryline.

The Raiders’ winger, however, appeared to have eyes only for the ball and, from the next set, Melbourne made the Raiders pay as Addo-Carr scored on Simonsson’s vacant wing.

It allowed the Storm to lead 12-6 at the break, before they extended the margin to eight points when Dunamis Lui was penalised for hitting Christian Welch off the ball.

Melbourne were still impressive without star five-eighth Cameron Munster against last year’s grand finalists.

Wearing a V on their jersey to honour people locked down in Victoria, they lost Jesse Bromwich to a knee injury early and held their line firmly despite several first-half errors at their own end.

Ryan Papenhuyzen also scored one of the tries of the weekend with a length-of-the-field effort to make it 20-6 midway through the second half.

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The Storm fullback scooped up a George Williams grubber from close to his own line, and was able to change direction and streak downfield to score.

Nick Cotric gave the Raiders some brief hope, reducing the margin to 10 with 10 minutes to play from a suspect Jarrod Croker pass.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad also crossed in the final minute, however it was too little, too late as their Hail Mary play from the ensuing kickoff fell flat.

Hodgson’s injury comes as another blow to the Raiders’ middle, and will likely leave Siliva Havili at dummy-half for the rest of the season.

The Raiders are already without fellow forwards Sia Soliola, Emre Guler and Corey Horsburgh long term. Simonsson also dislocated his shoulder late.

Canberra have won just two of their past six, and face a short turnaround into Thursday’s grand-final rematch with the Sydney Roosters.

AAP



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NRL leaders Parramatta thrash North Queensland 42-4, Canberra Raiders hold off Dragons 22-16


Wing sensation Maika Sivo has proven a handful for North Queensland, scoring four tries in Parramatta’s 42-4 humiliation of the Cowboys at Western Sydney Stadium.

Earlier in the evening, the Raiders made a triumphant return home by withstanding a second-half surge from St George Illawarra to prevail 22-16 at Canberra Stadium.

With half-back Mitch Moses sidelined, the Eels could have been excused for a dip in attack, but Sivo was at his destructive best as he headlined the home side’s seven-try tally.

Sivo struck the killer blows with three tries in 23 minutes at the end of the second half, put over off passes from skipper Clint Gutherson, Dylan Brown and Brad Takairangi close to the line.

When he added his fourth in the 72nd minute, he became the first Eels player to score four tries in a match since former cult hero Semi Radradra in 2017.

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Sivo has now scored 19 tries in 17 matches at Western Sydney Stadium. He was joined on the Eels’ try scorers list by Michael Jennings, Waqa Blake and Jai Field.

And while the Eels ran riot in front of fans for the first time since round one, the Cowboys were rocked early and never recovered.

It was the first match back for full-back Valentine Holmes from an ankle injury after two weeks on the sidelines.

But six days after defeating Newcastle 32-20, the Cowboys could not keep pace with an Eels outfit that looked hungrier, faster and more resolute in defence.

Tom Opacic crossed for the Cowboys’ lone try of the match.

The Eels move back into top spot on the ladder courtesy of the victory, with the Melbourne Storm sitting in second place following Thursday night’s thrilling win over the Sydney Roosters.

Raiders stave off Dragons

Playing in their first match in the nation’s capital since the NRL’s return from lockdown, the Raiders led 22-0 with 20 minutes to go on the clock.

Back-to-back Dragons tries gave Paul McGregor’s men some hope, but they could not manage a third try — a second to Matt Dufty — until there was just a minute left in the contest.

The victory temporarily lifts Ricky Stuart’s side to fifth spot, while the loss for St George Illawarra again leaves McGregor under pressure to hold onto his job as coach.

The win may have come at a cost for the Raiders, with veteran forward Iosaia Soliola sent to hospital for a suspected fractured left eye socket.

He appeared to sustain the injury after a first-half head clash with Blake Lawrie.

Raiders teammate Emre Guler also failed to finish the match after suffering a suspected right-leg injury late in the second half.

A Canberra Raiders NRL player screams out as he celebrates scoring a try against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
George Williams scored his first NRL try in the six-point win over the Dragons.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

Canberra’s left edge, which looked particularly potent for most of the contest, claimed the first points when momentum carried Nick Cotric over in the fifth minute.

Wing partner Bailey Simonsson doubled the lead 10 minutes later when he soared over Mikaele Ravalawa to take George Williams’s crossfield kick.

The Dragons had a handful of chances to get back into the contest, but let themselves down with untimely errors.

Williams made them pay just before half-time when he split two flat-footed front rowers to give the Raiders an unanswered three-try lead at the break.

The early signs were promising for St George Illawarra in the second half, with only a bad bounce preventing Dufty from scoring their first try.

Raiders captain Jarrod Croker looked to have killed off the contest when he pounced on a Jack Wighton grubber in the 56th minute.

Dufty, however, finally broke the Dragons’ drought when he chased a Corey Norman kick, before Zac Lomax touched down moments after.

AAP/ABC



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Canberra Raiders hold off St George Illawarra Dragons’ NRL comeback to win 22-16



The Raiders have made a triumphant return home by withstanding a second-half surge from St George Illawarra to prevail 22-16 at Canberra Stadium.

Playing in their first match in the nation’s capital since the NRL’s return from lockdown, the Raiders led 22-0 with 20 minutes to go on the clock.

Back-to-back Dragons tries gave Paul McGregor’s men some hope, but they could not manage a third try — a second to Matt Dufty — until there was just a minute left in the contest.

The victory temporarily lifts Ricky Stuart’s side to fifth spot, while the loss for St George Illawarra again leaves McGregor under pressure to hold onto his job as coach.

The win may have come at a cost for the Raiders, with veteran forward Iosaia Soliola sent to hospital for a suspected fractured left eye socket.

He appeared to sustain the injury after a first-half head clash with Blake Lawrie.

Raiders teammate Emre Guler also failed to finish the match after suffering a suspected right-leg injury late in the second half.

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Canberra’s left edge, which looked particularly potent for most of the contest, claimed the first points when momentum carried Nick Cotric over in the fifth minute.

Wing partner Bailey Simonsson doubled the lead 10 minutes later when he soared over Mikaele Ravalawa to take George Williams’s crossfield kick.

The Dragons had a handful of chances to get back into the contest, but let themselves down with untimely errors.

Williams made them pay just before half-time when he split two flat-footed front rowers to give the Raiders an unanswered three-try lead at the break.

The early signs were promising for St George Illawarra in the second half, with only a bad bounce preventing Dufty from scoring their first try.

Raiders captain Jarrod Croker looked to have killed off the contest when he pounced on a Jack Wighton grubber in the 56th minute.

Dufty, however, finally broke the Dragons’ drought when he chased a Corey Norman kick, before Zac Lomax touched down moments after.

AAP/ABC



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