The Sydney Roosters have claimed an emphatic victory in Indigenous Round against the Canberra Raiders, piling on the points in a 44-16 thumping at Central Coast Stadium, home of the Darkinjung people.
Joseph Manu put on a starring performance at five-eighth, scoring two tries and setting up another, while young backrower Egan Butcher became Sydney Rooster #1203 as Joseph Suaalii and Lachlan Lam produced strong performances, with both scoring their maiden tries in first-grade.
Central Coast product Adam Keighran had a memorable night, claiming a 12-point haul with the boot with six goals on his home turf.
Despite the late changes to the side and trailing 10-nil mid-way through the first half, a three-try blitz before the break springboarded the Tricolours to their eighth victory of 2021 as they scored 28 unanswered points in a brilliant second stanza.
The Roosters began the match with plenty of attacking flair in their first set, and although it ended in a penalty being awarded to Canberra, there were plenty of early signs for what would be an entertaining contest.
Round 12 Match Highlights: Roosters v Raiders
A clever kick from the Raiders then forced a line drop-out, but the defence of Josh Morris and Lachlan Lam kept their opponents at bay, stopping Caleb Aekins short of the line in a desperate effort.
The crowd rose to their feet as Ben Marschke put James Tedesco through a gap, but the final pass from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves went to ground as an early opportunity went begging for the Tricolours.
Another penalty to the Raiders found their opponents in the red zone, but once again the goal-line defence was on song as Suaalii stopped a runaway Elliott Whitehead, while hometown hero Matt Ikuvalu made a miraculous effort to make his way back into the field of play after diffusing a challenging kick.
Match: Roosters v Raiders
Round 12 -
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
The sides traded errors on halfway, and although a dazzling Tedesco created a chance on the right with the defence in two minds, the Roosters fell short once again as Suaalii was stopped short of the line.
Ill-discipline cruelled the Roosters as a wayward kick handed over a seven-tackle set, and after a crusher tackle penalty gave Canberra another sniff, eventually it was Josh Hodgson who took advantage of a grubber kick to touch down.
With the conversion waved away, the Raiders took a 4-nil lead after a quarter of the match played.
Looking to hit back immediately, the Red, White and Blue continued to come oh-so-close to scoring as a tearaway Nat Butcher made his way to score, only for the bunker to intervene and find interference in the defensive line.
Post Match with the Butcher Bros
With another penalty putting Canberra in attacking territory, they crossed over soon after to extend their lead.
After 27 minutes, the Raiders took a 10-nil lead as they converted the try from in front.
It wouldn't be too long before the Roosters faithful were on their feet, however, as a towering bomb from Lam forced an error from Aekins, and a swan-diving Suaalii crossed for his first NRL try to put his side on the board for the first time.
Keighran's conversion attempt hit the upright, and with nine minutes left in the half, the Roosters trailed 4-10 - but the best was yet to come as they soon kicked into gear.
Post Match with Joseph Suaalii
The Tricolours made it two tries in as many minutes as Lam went over himself after backing up a left-side raid from Tedesco and Morris, and the wave of momentum continued as a dazzling flick pass from Manu put backrower Sitili Tupouniua over after Whitehead was sin-binned for foul play in the ruck.
A curving conversion from Keighran gave his side a 16-10 lead in the shadows of half-time, and although their opponents gave a late scare thirty seconds from the break, the Roosters took the spoils as they headed into the sheds.
Two try-saving efforts from Morris and Manu set the tone for the second stanza, and soon enough the veteran centre put his winger Daniel Tupou over to score a trademark try in the corner.
Despite the unsuccessful conversion, the Roosters now held a 12-point advantage after 46 minutes.
A knock-on call from referee Grant Atkins was successfully challenged by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and once again the Tricolours were over as Manu entertained with a clever one-on-one strip to cross for the side's fifth try.
Post Match with Adam Keighran
Keighran slotted the conversion with a sweet strike to give the Roosters a 28-10 lead, but soon enough the Raiders hit back with Ryan James crashing over, and the deficit returned to twelve points.
Not to be outdone, Manu starred again by firstly choreographing another perfectly executed one-on-one strip before soaring above his opponents to catch his own kick and score his second try in a dazzling display of athleticism.
Keighran's fifth conversion brought back the lead to eighteen, and with more possession in opposition territory, it was a pirouetting Morris who crossed next from a pin-point accurate Tedesco kick.
Another attacking raid from the Raiders was followed by another try-saving effort as the Bondi Wall held off Sam Williams before the line, and more expansive play on the right saw Lam and Suaalii combine to put Tupouniua over for his second, capping off a memorable victory for the Red, White and Blue.
Sydney Roosters 44 (Joseph Manu 2, Sitili Tupouniua 2, Joseph Suaalii, Lachlan Lam, Daniel Tupou, Josh Morris tries; Adam Keighran 6 goals) def Canberra Raiders 16 (Josh Hodgson, Corey Horsburgh, Ryan James tries; Sam Williams 2 goals)
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