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Roosters Rise in Redcliffe to Claim 2021 NRLW Premiership

The Sydney Roosters have been crowned Premiers after taking out the 2021 NRLW Grand Final in an enthralling 16-4 victory against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe.

Easts claimed their inaugural title in the NRLW, overcoming their more fancied opponents in an intense affair that saw the Roosters rally from a 4-nil deficit, highlighted by their defensive fortitude throughout. 

Coincidentally, the side emulated their male counterparts by winning their first title in their fourth season, with Captain Corban Baxter celebrating her 28th birthday in style with a strong performance at the back in windy conditions, playing a major role in the extraordinary comeback. 

Sarah Togatuki completed a whirlwind week by claiming the Karyn Murphy Medal as player of the match, amassing an incredible 161 metres from 13 runs as well as making 21 tackles in an almighty 50-minute stint. 

Back rower Yasmin Meakes opened the side's account in the 44th minute, Isabelle Kelly extended the lead soon after, before rookie hooker Olivia Higgins sealed the result with a weaving run just three minutes from fulltime. 

Young lock Joeli Morris made her NRLW debut from 18th person as a replacement, becoming Sydney Rooster #56.

Meakes Levels the Scores

The Queensland sunshine beamed down on Moreton Daily Stadium in perfect conditions as the sides took the field to decide the champions of the 2021 season, with a strong breeze going from south end to the north end of the ground. 

Easts recovered quickly from a wicked bounce of the ball from the kick-off to get their first set rolling, but an error put the Bondi Wall under early pressure and the Dragons opened the scoring from the resulting scrum through Madison Bartlett. 

With the conversion attempt narrowly missing, the Dragons took a 4-nil lead after two minutes.

Not to be deterred, the Roosters clicked into gear with Corban Baxter and Isabelle Kelly leading the way - and soon enough Brydie Parker was in the clear and over the line, however, the winger was taken into touch before grounding. 

The forwards looked to gain ascendency with the likes of Sarah Togatuki, Mya Hill-Moana and Yasmin Meakes dishing out the damage through the middle of the park, while Hannah Southwell fell agonisingly short to the line from a fifth-tackle kick.

Breezy conditions caused havoc for the outside backs, and a Zahara Temara bomb did the job as Emma Tonegato dropped the ball cold - but another close call on the line saw Leianne Tufuga taken into touch in a brave effort from the rookie winger.  

The first half grind continued as both sides exhibited plenty of physicality on both sides of the ball putting the Redcliffe crowd on their feet, and thunderous charges from Togatuki, Southwell and Keilee Joseph put the Tricolours on the front foot. 

An ugly shoulder charge on Parker's saw Tahlia Fuimaono sent to the sin-bin, with the spry winger taken from the field, but the reshuffled Roosters failed to yield as they continued to challenge for points with Jessica Sergis and Jocelyn Kelleher falling just short in brilliant individual efforts.

Raecene McGregor Saves the Day

A 40/30 kick saw their opponents in prime position to extend their lead, but the desperate defence from the Bondi Wall held strong, highlighted by a try-saving tackle from Raecene McGregor on her sister Page just inches from the line. 

McGregor's heroics didn't stop there though, with the wily halfback executing a one-on-one strip just 20 metres from the line, and while the Dragons looked to have scored from a ricocheting kick just minutes from the break, a bunker intervention found a knock-on in the process in a massive turning point of the match. 

Following an intense first half, the Roosters trailed by just four points as the sides headed to the sheds ahead of the final 35 minutes of season 2021. 

McGregor's Clever Steal

Now with the breeze behind their backs, an early error from their opponents handed over an early chance to strike back only for handling to cruel the side as a wayward pass went to ground. 

A late tackle on the kicker gave away easy territory to the Dragons on the line, but the Bondi Wall proved too strong as Sergis and Tufuga stopped Tonegato in her tracks, and Sergis was at it again with a herculean effort to deny Shaylee Bent with just centimetres begging. 

Debutant Joeli Morris held on for dear life as speedster Teagan Berry looked to run into clear space, and an obstruction soon after gave the Roosters another shot at breaching the line.

Kelly Puts the Roosters in Front

A half break from Yasmin Meakes saw the crowd rise to their feet, and the second rower was over moments later as she charged onto a pass from Jocelyn Kelleher, opening her side's account in emphatic style. 

Zahara Temara's conversion attempt narrowly missed the upright, and with just over 20 minutes to go, the scores were level at 4-all.

With everything on the line, the intensity failed to waver despite fatigue creeping into both camps, with the newfound confidence of the Roosters shining through as they looked to go back-to-back.

Enthusiasm got the better of the Red, White and Blue briefly as a forced pass on the line invited the Dragons to reclaim the lead, but another colossal effort in defence was highlighted by a brilliant one-on-one tackle on Tonegato from Kelly. 

With momentum building and points on the horizon, the Roosters looked to their ball-playing prowess, with Baxter and Temara linking up to send Kelly streaking away to score a trademark four-pointer as the stands erupted.

Higgins Seals Grand Final

With Temara's conversion, the Roosters took the lead for the first time in the match, leading 10-4 with just thirteen minutes on the clock. 

A swinging arm on McGregor saw the pint-sized playmaker bravely continue on, and the resolute Roosters continued to hold off their opponents with committed defence on the line holding off wave after wave of attack.

An unsuccessful Captain's Challenge from Baxter failed to worry the side, as a barnstorming charge from Togatuki saw Olivia Higgins seal the result after pulling out of a tackle to dot down with just three minutes remaining - with the Roosters taking home the 2021 NRLW Premiership. 

 

 

Sydney Roosters 16 (Yasmin Meakes, Isabelle Kelly, Olivia Higgins tries; Zahara Temara 2 goals) def St George Illawarra Dragons 4 (Madison Bartlett try) 

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.

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