The Sydney Roosters have produced a spellbinding performance in Magic Round, defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 30-16 at Suncorp Stadium in a scrappy yet entertaining affair.
Captain James Tedesco led by example, running for over 200 metres while setting up three linebreaks and two tries with a number of brilliant efforts while Lachlan Lam enjoyed a successful return from injury by setting up two tries of his own.
Daniel Tupou and Angus Crichton finished the match with doubles, while Matt Ikuvalu scored his sixth try against the Cowboys in two matches with a first-half four-pointer.
But it was far from an ideal start for the Red, White and Blue though, as a cruel bounce of the ball from the kick-off saw their opponents with possession 20 metres from the try line.
Absorbing a number of raids from their opponents - enduring two line-drop outs and defending for four straight minutes - the Bondi Wall stayed intact as Joseph Manu capitalised on an error to give his side possession.
The Roosters' flamboyant style of play was on show from the offset, and they would go end-to-end as a slick backline shift saw Tupou extend his try-scoring tally to tip-toe down the sideline and touch down for the first score of the match.
With Sam Walker's conversion unsuccessful, the Roosters took a 4-nil lead after six minutes.
Match: Roosters v Cowboys
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Trundling through the middle of the field through the likes of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Isaac Liu and Crichton, a set restart saw the Tricolours well into their opponents' territory and with an eye for the line.
In the blink of an eye, their lead extended as a Houdini-like inside pass from Walker put Victor Radley through a yawning gap, combining with the young halfback who touched down after finishing off his own trick-play.
Walker's conversion saw the Roosters take a 10-nil lead after eleven minutes.
Soon after, however, a contested kick bounced the way of the Cowboys, and although a determined Matt Ikuvalu looked to escape the in-goal after diffusing a scheming grubber kick, the Tricolours were forced to once again employ their trademark defence as they were forced to kick their fourth drop-out inside the opening quarter of the match.
A rampaging Jason Taumalolo looked destined to score, but a desperate defensive effort from returning second rower Sitili Tupouniua stopped the giant lock forward inches from the line and forced an error in the process.
Transitioning from defence to attack seamlessly, a stripping penalty on Crichton saw Easts on the hunt once again, and although Josh Morris was denied his 156th try, Ikuvalu touched down on the other side of the field courtesy of a Lachlan Lam cut-out pass.
The returning five-eighth was at it soon after, putting a charging Crighton over as a misfiring kick-off saw the red-hot Roosters running rings through Cowboys territory once more.
With just over ten minutes left in the first half, the Tricolours took an 18-nil lead, but a massive shift in momentum was soon to come.
With the NRL's new rules enforced, a careless high tackle from Tupouniua saw the backrower sent to the sin-bin for the remainder of the first half, and their opponents would capitalise with two tries in quick succession, to bring the scores to 18-10.
Round 10 Match Highlights: Roosters v Cowboys
Absorbing more pressure as Morris diffused a dangerous grubber to force yet another drop-out, the Tricolours were determined to keep their lead intact as some magnificent defence from Ikuvalu and Manu prevented a certain try on the stroke of half-time.
Returning to thirteen men as the sides returned was not enough to prevent their opponents' momentum, as the Cowboys shot out of the blocks on the opening set of the second stanza to score once again and close their deficit to two points.
A towering kick saw possession handed back to North Queensland, and after a late hit handed over a penalty goal opportunity, the Roosters were let off as the Cowboys' attempt to level the scores swung wide, with a 20-metre drop-out easing pressure.
With their backs to the wall, an inspiring 40-metre run from Ikuvalu swung the momentum back the way of the Roosters. Following strong charges from Tedesco and Radley, the Tricolours were close to scoring as Manu took advantage of some quick hands, only for a knock-on to be found in the process.
Not to be deterred, a runaway Tedesco produced a scintillating 60-metre dash, slipping through the defence with ease and popping a miraculous offload for Crichton to go over for his second.
Adam Keighran's conversion was waved away, however, the Roosters regained a six-point lead with just under half an hour left in the contest.
Errors and ill-discipline stifled momentum for both sides heading into the final quarter of the match as fatigue began to set in, but Tedesco was at it once again as he sent Tupou through a gap and putting with the Tricolours in a prime position to score.
Unfortunately, an unsuccessful Captain's Challenge from a fifth tackle kick went the way of North Queensland, and Tedesco would be in the thick of it soon after, taking a swinging arm to the head from Lachlan Burr, who was in turn sent to the sin-bin.
Opting for a penalty goal, Adam Keighran's boot put the Steeden over the black dot, and the Roosters' lead extended to eight with just under fifteen minutes left.
A short kick-off saw the boys from Bondi starting the ensuing set just short of halfway, and the Roosters were almost in again as some expansive play saw the football go from end-to-end, only for their opponents to prevent them from scoring on two separate occasions.
But it was third-time lucky as a desperate offload from Tedesco found Morris, who perfectly drew in the last line of defence to put Tupou over for his second and the game-sealing try, with the Roosters holding off their opponents in a 30-16 victory.
Sydney Roosters 30 (Angus Crichton 2, Daniel Tupou 2, Sam Walker, Matt Ikuvalu, tries; Sam Walker 2 goals; Adam Keighran penalty goal) def North Queensland Cowboys 16 (Scott Drinkwater 2, Javid Bowen tries; Valentine Holmes 2 goals)
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