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Roosters Overcome by Panthers in SG Ball Grand Final

The Sydney Roosters have been overcome by a fast-finishing Penrith Panthers outfit 22-20 in the SG Ball Cup Grand Final in a heartbreaking finish at Commbank Stadium. 

Charging to a 20-nil lead in 26 minutes, the Roosters looked in control throughout the entire match before their opponents forced a thrilling finish to deny the Club's second Junior Representative title following the Tarsha Gale Cup's enthralling win earlier in the day.

In a positive for the Tricolours, promising lock Siua Wong was named SG Ball player of the the year following a dominant performance throughout the year. 

Easts began the match in strong fashion, with a number of powerful carries resulting in pinning their opponents behind their 20-metre line - before a head-high shot on Tyler Moriarty saw the side starting a new set on the line.

The Red, White and Blue came oh so close to claiming the first points, only for a bomb from Cassius Tia to be knocked on in goal - but their next opportunity came on the very next set as Penrith lost possession in their own half. 

Quick hands saw centre Robert Toia threaten the line with a strong charge, and a right-side shift saw the Roosters open their account as winger Xavier Chatfield-Mooka continued his try-scoring streak with a touchdown in the corner. 

The Roosters weren't done yet though, as Toia burst through on the very next set, finding fullback Benjamin Dufficy who streaked away to score a memorable four-pointer - and after converting his own try, the scoreline was 10-nil after as many minutes. 

A penalty on the ensuing set saw the Tricolours' dream start continue as they found themselves in opposition territory once again, and five-eighth Ethan Strange looked to add to the scoreboard in a mighty effort before possession was lost soon after.

More errors from their opponents opened up more opportunities to extend the lead, and a sidestepping Tia found himself over the line after a zig-zagging effort from an offload, with the score blowing out to 14-0 and nearly keeping up with the clock.

Chatfield-Mooka looked to add another try to his name after a clever chip kick only to be beaten by the bounce, before a flurry of offloads sent the Tricolours downfield and come close to extending further. 

An ill-timed penalty in the ruck swung momentum, however, the Bondi Wall not only denied points but also forced an error as the young Tricolours looked to continue on with their job.

Momentum stalled again for both sides through mistimed passes and wayward offloading, before the Roosters rallied to score once more as a charging Siua Wong allowed Benaiah Ioelu to burrow his way to the line from dummy-half. 

Dufficy's third conversion saw the Red, White and Blue extend their lead to 20-nil heading into the final ten minutes of the first half.

Now with the wind behind their backs, the Roosters rampaged downfield with Chatfield-Mooka streaming through to score, only for the final pass to be called forward.

Not to be deterred by that near-miss, Easts continued to dominate their opponents through the middle of the field, and while Penrith looked to have hit back, another forward pass stopped them in their tracks.

As fatigue crept into camp, a break downfield nearly resulted in the opposition posting their first points, but back to back efforts from backrower Michael Abdow and front rower Lafi Tuinauvai ensured the Roosters would go into the sheds with a 20-nil lead. 

Chatfield-Mooka went from tryscorer to trysaver in the opening set of the second stanza as his opposite pounced a wicked bounce on a fifth tackle kick before dragging him down inches from the line.

An error in their own half gave the Panthers another opportunity to get onto the board, before a forced drop out handed the Bondi Wall its first challenge of the new half - and an attacking grubber was easily contained by Toia.

Growing in strength with each and every set, the Roosters looked to break the second half deadlock as Abdow cleverly executed another one-on-one strip on the line.

However, it would be Penrith to open the scoring in the second half after a back and forth period as they crossed in the corner, with the Roosters maintaining a sixteen-point lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

Moriarty looked to extend the lead with a clever kick ahead before an uncharacteristic penalty handed their opponents another chance to strike, but the Bondi Wall showed plenty of poise to allow an attacking grubber to go dead. 

A crunching hit from interchange forward Darcy Clifton grabbed the attention of the crowd, but the weight of possession saw their lead close to just four points heading into the final ten minutes as Penrith struck twice in quick succession. 

Needing to regain ascendency in order to seal the result in a thrilling end to the season, the Roosters were willing and gallant in their defensive efforts, only for errors to cruel them - and the Panthers capitalised to level the scores. 

With less than two minutes remaining on the clock, the successful conversion saw the Panthers take a 22-20 lead, and take home the SG Ball Cup.

 

Sydney Roosters 20 (Xavier Chatfield-Mooka, Benjamin Dufficy, Cassius Tia, Benaiah Ioelu tries; Benjamin Dufficy 3 goals) def by Penrith Panthers 22 (Jesse McLean 2, Mason Teague, Angelis Hotere-Papalii tries; Keagan Russell-Smith 4 goals)

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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