In their final trial before season 2021 kicks off, the Sydney Roosters have recorded a 26-20 victory against the Canberra Raiders at Seiffert Oval.
Angus Crichton continued to build on his strong form from the back end of 2020, while young halves Lachlan Lam and Sam Walker gave Head Coach Trent Robinson plenty to think about ahead of his team selection for Round 1. James Tedesco was in fine touch, both saving and scoring tries in a back and forth contest.
Playing their first match at Seiffert Oval since 1989, the Roosters - in their 2021 Away jersey - started the match off with a strong set off the back of strong charges from Jared Waerea Hargreaves, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Crichton.
Fellow forward Sitili Tupouniua would reap the rewards, with halfback Drew Hutchison's decision to run on last tackle paying off as a flurry of passes found Daniel Tupou, who landed a pinpoint kick from his left boot to find the rangy backrower. Taukeiaho would extend the Roosters' lead to six with a successful conversion after just five minutes.
Tedesco would make a try-saving tackle against George Williams as the Raiders broke through, however, Hudson Young would find the line as a Josh Papalii offload caught the defence off guard. An unsuccessful conversion saw the Red, White and Blue hold a two-point lead.
An uncharacteristic error from Tedesco handed over possession to the home side, but the three-time Jack Gibson Medal winner would bounce back immediately, pouncing on a grubber kick and relieving pressure from his side.
Brett Morris would emulate his fullback's defensive effort, mowing down a runaway Jordan Rapana and forcing an error in what was a highlight of the first half.
Another mistimed pass coupled with a penalty in the ruck saw the Roosters again hand momentum back to their opponents, who would take advantage of their high possession as Joseph Tapine touched down with a quarter of the match gone.
More uncharacteristic penalties from the Tricolours would give the Raiders another chance to strike, but again it was Tedesco's efforts in defence that prevented more points scored.
Crichton would continue his high work-rate on the left edge as Trent Robinson began to utilise his bench, but once again a cheap penalty in attack diffused the pressure placed from the Red, White and Blue.
In turn, the home side would go over for their third try as Jack Wighton reached over the line to score after breaking off a number of tackles, with the conversion giving the Raiders a ten-point lead.
An opportunity to hit back for the Roosters opened up as the Raiders lost possession with a bustling Lindsay Collins finding the line after barging through multiple defenders. With five minutes left in the first half, an unsuccessful conversion attempt from Tedesco would see the boys from Bondi get within six points of their opponents.
A penalty on Daniel Suluka-Fifita from the ensuing kick-off opened up an opportunity to level the scores with just minutes remaining in the first stanza, but another error close to the line would see the Roosters rue their chances heading into the sheds.
Quick passing saw the Tricolours make their way downfield early at the beginning of the second half, with a penalty from a kick seeing the side's first chance to score.
An enterprising style of play, with the ball going from end to end, saw Sam Walker go over for a try from a classy Crichton offload. Tedesco's conversion levelled the scores after ten minutes gone in the first half.
The Roosters would continue to ask questions of the Raiders defence, with both Crichton and Tedesco breaking the line, however, a 40/20 kick from the Raiders would swing momentum back to the home side. Strong defence from the Red, White and Blue would immediately shut the home side down, with an error on the line easing pressure.
Lachlan Lam would then stamp his authority, catching and kicking in one motion to find Tupou through a nicely weighted grubber kick to put his side back in front. With the sideline conversion unsuccessful, the Roosters held a slender four-point lead with a quarter of the match still to go.
Soon after the no.6 was at it again, taking the line on and finding Walker, who put his fullback over for a scintillating try. Taukeiaho's conversion gave the Roosters a ten-point lead with fifteen left.
After defending a number of sets on their line, an error from the Raiders saw the Red, White and Blue with another scrum 20 metres from the line. Two Roosters in Freddy Lussick and Crichton found themselves over the line, but referee Matt Cecchin found violations in both occurrences.
Pressure soon fell upon the boys from Bondi with more errors creeping into their game, with the Raiders scoring in the corner a few sets later, with the Roosters lead down to six points.
With a frantic end to the match, the Raiders threw everything they had, but in typical fashion, it was the Roosters whose defence would hold strong as the side look towards their Round 1 match in two weeks' time.
Sydney Roosters 26 (Sitili Tupouniua, Lindsay Collins, Sam Walker, Daniel Tupou, James Tedesco tries; Sio Siua Taukeiaho 2, James Tedesco goals) def Canberra Raiders 20