The Sydney Roosters have gone down to the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Stadium Australia in the first leg of the Ron Coote Cup 26 points to 16 in what was a passionate and fiery match.
While errors cruelled the side in the first half, the Roosters mounted a second-half comeback which fell short in what has been the side's only loss of the 2021 season so far.
The contest began with plenty of energy in the opening sets of six, with both sides trading blows and forcing errors through the initial softening up period.
Early momentum would swing the way of the Rabbitohs, who sent an attacking raid towards the Roosters' right-side defence, only for Joseph Manu to spectacularly clean up a dangerous grubber kick close to the line.
The Tricolours' defence would be tested again, but the home side would take an early lead through a Cody Walker try. Adam Reynolds' conversion gave them a 6-nil lead after ten minutes.
A rugged tackle from Sitili Tupouniua and Manu gave the Red, White and Blue possession through a forced error, and off the back of a number of tough carries, the Roosters came oh-so-close to replying through a soaring Daniel Tupou, only for the winger to lose control of the ball in a mid-air contest.
James Tedesco looked to inspire his side as he returned the ball from the in-goal back to the field of play after a dangerous grubber threatened to force a drop-out, but Easts would hand over cheap possession as Souths extended their lead with a try in the ensuing set.
Muscling up in defence close to the line, the Roosters looked to reply by forcing their opponents into touch, but more errors and missed opportunities cruelled the Red, White and Blue through the remainder of the first half.
Ill-discipline would creep into the match, as an unfortunate head-high tackle saw the side give away a penalty in front of the sticks, with their opponents going up 14-nil after half an hour passed.
With half-time fast approaching and finding themselves a man down after the two sides came together in a fiery clash, Easts would be further behind with South Sydney exposing their advantage in numbers as the sides went into the sheds.
It would be a tough start to the second stanza for the Red, White and Blue, conceding a try that would find themselves with an even bigger mountain to climb.
With half an hour left in the contest, Tedesco put his team on the board as a forced error saw the fleeting fullback streak 40 metres downfield to score a spectacular solo try.
Siosiua Taukeiaho's goal closed the deficit to three converted tries, with plenty of time still left on the clock to mount a comeback.
Clearly inspired by their captain and with the Chookpen faithful cheering them on, the Tricolours continued to fight through the second half with a number of powerful runs and damaging tackles swinging momentum back their way.
Unfortunately, more uncharacteristic errors crept into the Tricolours' camp, and with both Lindsay Collins and Lachlan Lam taken from the field from two separate but equally unfortunate incidents, the men from Bondi needed to act swiftly.
A left-side raid found a rampaging Tupou charging downfield, and while his initial kick ahead was diffused, Manu would force a drop-out as he found the strength to put South Sydney in their own in-goal. With Tupou's catching expertise helping greatly to the ensuing short kick-off, the Roosters were in prime position to strike back.
And strike back they would, with a soaring Brett Morris going over for his seventh try of the season in style, leaping for a Luke Keary kick and stripping opposition winger Alex Johnston of the ball mid-air as he touched down. James Tedesco's conversion would go wide, with the scores at 24-10 with just under six minutes remaining.
The short-lived comeback would come too little too late, and despite Josh Morris going over as the siren sounded, the Roosters would fall short 26-16 in a dramatic contest.
Sydney Roosters 16 (James Tedesco, Brett Morris, Josh Morris tries; Siosiua Taukeiaho, James Tedesco goals) def by South Sydney Rabbitohs 26 (Cody Walker 2, Dane Gagai, Josh Mansour tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals)
Stay tuned for more from Roosters.com.au including Match Highlights, Roosters TV Post-Match Interviews and Head Coach Trent Robinson's Press Conference!