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Five of the Best: Finals Week One Victories

The NRL finals mark the most exciting time of the season, where the culmination of all the hard work made in pre-season and the regular rounds is put to the test, and it's the first week that always lays the platform for the remainder of the campaign. 

With the Sydney Roosters being finals specialists over the last two decades, we had plenty of week one victories to look over, but we've condensed our list - in no particular order - to Five of the Best. 

Rooster Rampage: Qualifying Final, 2019 vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

After an arm-wrestle against arch-rivals South Sydney the week before, the Roosters were red-hot when it mattered most in their qualifying final victory in week one of the 2019 finals.

Just two minutes in, the Red, White and Blue were over through Joseph Manu, as the young Kiwi centre took defenders over the line with him. Easts found themselves with two on the board after ten as Mitchell Aubusson took advantage of some quick hands on the right side.

But the left side would have their say as captain Boyd Cordner ran a trademark line to dot down, with Sio Siua Taukeiaho pouncing on a grubber kick in the span of four minutes to extend the lead to 22. 

Extended Highlights | Roosters v Rabbitohs

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The shellacking wasn't done before the break, however, as the right side continue to carve up their opposition, with Brett Morris looping an audacious pass back inside to James Tedesco.

Easts would extend the score with a quarter of the match left as Luke Keary's ball-playing continued to trouble the defence, and while South Sydney managed to score in the shadows of full-time, the SCG was painted Red, White and Blue en route to the Club's 15th Premiership. 

Sydney Roosters 30 (Joseph Manu, Mitchell Aubusson, Boyd Cordner, Siosiua Taukeiaho, James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell tries; Latrell Mitchell 3 goals) def South Sydney Rabbitohs 6


Cronk Masterclass Cruels Sharks: Qualifying Final, 2018 vs Cronulla Sharks

As the Roosters began their finals quest to claim the Premiership, the first challenge would come in the form of a hungry Sharks outfit at the Sydney Football Stadium. 

Despite a strong start to the contest, Easts would concede the first try as their opponents employed some quick hands to dive over in the corner with five minutes gone. 

But the Roosters brought some magic of their own to land their first blow minutes later, as Cooper Cronk went over after regathering his own ricocheting grubber to put the side on the board, going up 6-4 with the successful conversion. 

In a gritty first half contest, the mounting pressure from the Sharks levelled the scores as the Red, White and Blue conceded an uncharacteristic penalty, and while they would threaten on multiple occasions through the remainder of the first half, the Bondi Wall would fail to yield. 

Highlights | Roosters v Sharks

And off the back of a late attacking raid from the home side, Joseph Manu reached out to plant the Steeden on the line, handing the Roosters a 10-6 lead at the break.

Cronulla hit back in the second half to take a two-point lead before the see-sawing contest swung the way of the Tricolours as two quick-fire tries extended the lead to six.

Up 18-12 with ten minutes remaining, the visitors looked likely to level as Luke Lewis crashed over the line, but a mighty defensive effort from Latrell Mitchell dislodged the ball from his grasp.

A field goal to Cronk made the difference more than a converted try, and with five to go a penalty goal ensured the Roosters would go straight through to the Preliminary Final with a 21-12 victory. 

Sydney Roosters 21 (Cooper Cronk, Joseph Manu, Latrell Mitchell, Daniel Tupou tries; Latrell Mitchell 2 goals; Cooper Cronk field goal) def Cronulla Sharks 12


100-Minute Special: Qualifying Final, 2010 vs Wests Tigers

You know we had to add this one in. 

As the Roosters continued their rebuild from a horror season in 2009, the Tricolours found themselves back in the finals the following year, coming up against a red-hot Wests Tigers side in the first qualifying final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Drama would kick-off just five minutes into the contest, as the Tigers thought they were in to score, only for Dally M Medallist Todd Carney to make a miraculous tackle on hulking Englishman Gareth Ellis, dislodging the ball before he could touch down. 

A scuffle in the ruck between Mitchell Pearce and Benji Marshall saw the two halves come together in a fiery clash, setting the tone for the rest of the match as Ellis was once again denied soon after. 

It was third-time unlucky for the Tigers as desperation from Anthony Minichiello held Blake Ayshford up, but sheer weight of possession would see Lote Tuqiri and Beau Ryan go over as the Roosters trailed 2-10 at half-time.

Just as the Tricolours looked to make their mark early in the second stanza with a try of their own, their opponents extended their lead as Ayshford took a long-range intercept, and with a  Robbie Farah field goal extending the scores to 15-2 with just half an hour remaining, things were looking bleak for the Roosters.

Hope was not gone yet, however, as Carney would inject himself into the contest, regathering a chip and chase to put captain Braith Anasta over with just over a quarter of the match left, much to the relief of the Chookpen. 

Carney and Anasta combined again soon after to put Anthony Minichiello over, only for the fullback to have the ball dislodged from his grasp with millimetres to spare. But the five-eighth would continue his rich vein of form, going through a yawning gap and putting his halves partner Mitchell Pearce over in the final few minutes of regulation time.

Wests Tigers v Roosters Qualifying Final 2010

The controversy peaked in the shadows of full-time, with a dubious shot from Simon Dwyer on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves all but sealing the win for their opponents as a sense of dread filled the Red, White and Blue faithful in the stands. 

But in typical Roosters fashion, the side's never-say-die attitude shone in the final minutes, with a miraculous scrum win breathing life into the team and giving them one last shot. 

The heroics weren't over yet though, as the Roosters scrambled to level the scores, with a short-side raid cut off as Minichiello swung the ball back to Anasta, who put the match into Golden Point with a booming 30-metre field goal, sending the Sydney Football Stadium stands into raptures. 

Both sides continued to go back and forth in extra time, as two missed field goals each failed to ice the match, and just as the crowd thought they had seen everything possible, the 100-minute spectacle concluded as Shaun Kenny-Dowall raced onto an intercept, running 75 metres downfield to touch down in the corner and seal one of the most memorable victories in Club history. 

Sydney Roosters 19 (Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Shaun Kenny-Dowall tries; Todd Carney 3 goals; Braith Anasta field goal) def Wests Tigers 15


One Try Is All It Takes: Qualifying Final, 2013 vs Manly Sea Eagles

Rookie Head Coach Trent Robinson had turned the Roosters into the defensive lynchpins of the competition in 2013, and the side’s transformation was on show in this hard-fought 4-nil victory against eventual Grand Final opponents Manly.

A place in the preliminary final was up for grabs, and the Tricolours were determined to retain their impeccable defensive record, having shut out five teams throughout the regular season.

After a gruelling first ten minutes filled with plenty of attrition and vigour, a calmly placed James Maloney grubber kick was swooped on by a flying Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who used his acrobatics to touch down in the corner.

Finals Week 1, 2013 Highlights: Roosters vs Sea Eagles

Just minutes later the lead looked likely to extend as a bat-on from Maloney saw Daniel Tupou destined to score, only to be put into touch as he reached the line. The defensive pressure from the Roosters was then able to shut down two raids from their opponents to prevent tries as the scores remained at the break.

Despite being three quarters into the match, there were no further points as the sides fought tooth and nail to open up opportunities, and Mitchell Pearce came to the rescue for his side as a Manly break saw him cleverly take a wayward offload.

Frenetic play continued to highlight the desperation from both sides, and the Roosters’ tenacity on their line denied Kieran Foran just centimetres away, with James Maloney taking possession of an offload in the final stages to solidify an incredible 4-nil win.


Sydney Roosters 4 (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck try) def Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 0


Breaking the Finals Drought: Minor Qualifying Final, 1997 vs North Sydney Bears

Heading into the 1997 post-season after breaking their decade-long finals drought the year before, the Sydney City Roosters came up against battle-hardened foes the North Sydney Bears in the first week.

Going out in straight sets in 1996, the Red, White and Blue were determined to make amends in the Minor Qualifying Final, and despite defeating their opponents the week prior in the final regular-season round, things were looking grim as Ben Ikin crossed for the Bears just five minutes in.

Ill-discipline cruelled the Roosters as Norths took a 13-nil lead at the break, despite an admirable try-saving effort from Ivan Cleary, but the momentum heading into half-time swung to the Roosters, and that would continue into the second stanza.

The Roosters opened their account with a penalty goal before Jason Taylor replied with his second field goal to bring it back to a twelve-point deficit, but the comeback began with less than half an hour left in the contest the Tricolours scored their first try as flying fullback Andrew Walker crossed.

Continuing to charge downfield and gain territory, the Roosters terrorised the Bears with towering kicks, and while Luke Ricketson and Jack Elsegood were both denied tries from the boot, it was all even in the 71st minute as Walker went over for his second.

Match Winner: Adrian Lam proved to be the match-winner against the Bears, kicking a field goal in the final seconds to send the match into extra time, before scoring a try in the emphatic 33-21 win.
Match Winner: Adrian Lam proved to be the match-winner against the Bears, kicking a field goal in the final seconds to send the match into extra time, before scoring a try in the emphatic 33-21 win.

With yet another field goal edging the Bears ahead, the Bondi Wall stood strong to prevent their opponents from adding to their scoresheet, and it was better late than ever as Adrian Lam stepped up to the plate, potting his own drop-goal from dummy half in the dying seconds to send the match into overtime.

From there the Roosters ran away with it, as hooker Sean Garlick got over in the opening minutes of extra time before Cleary and Lam put themselves on the scoreboard. While the Bears scored with a try of their own, Sydney City were too strong, going on with a memorable 33-21 victory.


Sydney City Roosters 33 (Andrew Walker 2, Sean Garlick, Adrian Lam, Ivan Cleary tries; Ivan Cleary 6 goals; Adrian Lam field goal) def North Sydney Bears 21


More Five of the Best on

Five of the Best: Encounters with Penrith

Five of the Best: Battles with the Eels

Five of the Best: Triumphs Over the Knights

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.