Raiders gain sweet revenge over Roosters

Canberra are one win away from a second straight grand final after they extracted the perfect revenge on the Sydney Roosters, ending the defending premiers shot at an NRL three-peat.

In one of the best performances of the year, the Raiders shot out of the blocks to lead 16-0 after 23 minutes before holding out the fast-finishing two-time defending premiers 22-18.

It sets up a preliminary final date with Melbourne next Friday at Suncorp Stadium, with the winner to advance to the NRL decider on October 25.

Josh Papalii was again immense for the Raiders, as Canberra won the battle of the middle with Hudson Young and Joseph Tapine both massive.

Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was also superb, with two crucial try-saves on Brett and Josh Morris to halt the Roosters’ charge.

His tackle on Josh was one of the most important moments of the match, sprinting across to put him into touch with the Roosters down 16-12.

Moments later the Raiders had their lead back out to 10, as James Tedesco lost his feet trying to field a George Williams kick and Jack Wighton scored.

But even then the Roosters wouldn’t let up in front of 18,110 fans at the SCG.

They had the margin back to four with five minutes to play when Sonny Bill Williams and Sitili Tupouniua combined to put Tedesco over.

And they looked as if they had the Raiders in all sorts in the dying minutes, only for Tedesco to drop a ball 30 metres out with Canberra short on numbers.

It signalled a dogged end to the Roosters’ back-to-back title defence, having been at the top of their game for three years before slipping over the past fortnight.

Papalii had earlier started the run for the Raiders when he crashed over for the first try from close range, making the most of a piggyback penalty.

The Raiders forward was also instrumental in their next.

He kick-started a centre-field movement with an offload for John Bateman before Jordan Rapana put George Williams over.

And the game looked all but over when Tapine pushed his way through five defenders from close to the line to make it 16-0.

But it was then the Roosters’ comeback started.

Tedesco was the first to cross after Luke Keary put Josh Morris away and he kicked back on the fly for his fullback just before the break.

Joey Manu also provided plenty of spark, denied once after break for a double movement before convincing the bunker moments later.

Looming as a threat all night, he picked up a loose ball from 25 metres out and found the line, despite a desperate last effort from Jarrod Croker.

But in the end it was a case of too little too late, as the curtain closed on Mitchell Aubusson’s 306-game career and the Roosters shot at the first three-peat of the NRL era.

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