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Roosters Push Panthers to Limit in Enthralling Clash

In a stellar effort at BlueBet Stadium, the Sydney Roosters pushed the defending Premiers Penrith to the brink in an enthralling contest, falling 26-18.

Tasked with taking on the Penrith Panthers at home without key figures including halfback Luke Keary and forward enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, the Tricolours were courageous against their highly-favoured opponents, with the result only determined with minutes remaining. 

In the NRL's Beanie for Brain Cancer Round, Head Coach Trent Robinson made a number of changes to the line up prior to kick off, which saw Kiwi sensation Joseph Manu move from the centres into five-eighth. 


The match marked the 50th in Roosters colours for Connor Watson since his debut in 2017, while Victor Radley made a successful return from injury with a stirring performance that added plenty of physicality to the contest. 

The Roosters arrived at Penrith with a consistent downpour falling throughout the night, with strong carries from the likes of Joseph Suaalii and Lindsay Collins propelling them downfield.

Moved to dummy-half pre-match, Drew Hutchison looked to turn the home side around early with clever kicking, and although ill-discipline and over-enthusiasm saw Penrith open the scoring with a penalty goal, the intensity from the visitors showed no signs of wavering.

Spine Combination Puts Walker in

Easts went downfield soon after with the home side penalised, but poor handling squandered their chances - with Billy Smith's quick reaction time preventing the Panthers from scoring after grounding a towering kick in the in-goal. 

Unfortunately, the home side was just as quick to react on the ensuing scrum, which saw Brian To'o slide over in the corner - with the subsequent conversion giving them an 8-nil lead after thirteen minutes.

In a frustrating period, ball handling continued to cruel the Roosters and while the Bondi Wall held firm and forced errors, a Bunker intervention following a Penrith break saw Angus Crichton in the sin-bin after committing a professional foul. 

Not to be deterred, Sam Verrills was injected into the contest - and his spark was exactly what the Red, White and Blue needed to get on the board as Manu and James Tedesco sent Sam Walker streaming through to slide under the posts. 

The Bondi Wall in Full Force

With newfound confidence, the men from Bondi continued to chance their arm, and another break from the home side was squandered as the defence swarmed - highlighted by Tedesco's scintillating effort on Isaah Yeo which stopped the Panthers captain just centimetres from the line.

In a cruel blow, a dubious penalty in the shadows of halftime allowed the home side one last chance to score, and the weight of possession saw Viliame Kikau crash over - with the Roosters trailing 8-14 at the break. 

Tedesco inspired his side as he fought through multiple tackles before clever kicking from Manu and Walker placed early pressure - and all of a sudden Siosiua Taukeiaho streamed through to score after taking a well-timed pass from Egan Butcher. 

With half an hour remaining, the Roosters' deficit closed to two points following Walker's conversion.

Taukeiaho Scores Off Some Slick Ball Playing

A charge down threatened to extend Penrith's lead, but after Kikau failed to take possession with the line begging, the men from Bondi swung the momentum back with Butcher further showcasing his skills by producing a line drop out.

Continuing their dominance of possession, the Roosters stole the lead as Verrills dived over from dummy half next to the posts, with Walker's third conversion seeing his side lead 18-14 with just over half an hour remaining. 

The combatants went at one another with ferocity as the intensity resembled a finals match, but the sheer weight of possession to the Panthers saw Izack Tago cross to level the scores. 

Nathan Cleary's conversion handed back the home side the lead, with the scoreboard reading 20-18 with under fifteen minutes remaining in the contest. 

Radley and Collins injected plenty of physicalities, with Trent Robinson's men continuing to fight tooth and nail in order to regain the lead, but with the momentum swinging, the home side sealed the result as Api Koroisau scored from dummy half. 

Still not content with accepting a result, the Roosters continued their rally in search of the two competition points, but to no avail, as they fell short, 18-26. 

The Sydney Roosters will earn a well-deserved rest with the bye in Round 17, before returning to the field to host rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons at Central Coast Stadium in their Round 18 clash. 

Sydney Roosters 18 (Sam Walker, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Sam Verrills tries; Sam Walker 3 goals) def by Penrith Panthers 26 (Brian To'o, Viliame Kikau, Izack Tago, Api Koroisau tries; Nathan Cleary 4 goals; Nathan Cleary penalty goal) 


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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