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Flegg Roosters Fall Short in Heartbreaking Grand Final Defeat

One of the Sydney Roosters’ best Jersey Flegg seasons to date has ended in an unfortunate Grand Final loss, with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs claiming a 22-20 nail-biting win at CommBank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The match turned out to be a much closer contest than when the heavyweights went head-to-head just two weeks ago, but a masterclass from Karl Oloapu and a double to Jordi Mazzone proved too much for the Tricolours.

The highly anticipated contest opened with a riveting 10 minutes from both sides, but a penalty to the Bulldogs coming out of their own end saw them reach valuable attacking territory.

Looking dangerous as they pressed Easts’ line, Canterbury sent the ball to their five-eighth Karl Oloapu, but the play was read to perfection by NSWRL Jersey Flegg Cup Player of the Year Max McCathie as he raced out of the line to jam Oloapu in the tackle and force the ball loose.

Advancing upfield off the back of the error, the Roosters drew first blood as Cassius Tia baited the defence with a double pump, firing a cut-out ball to Xavier Chatfield-Mooka who beat three defenders to the corner to open the scoring.

The Bulldogs returned serve just a few minutes later, with Oloapu holding the ball up on the left edge before delivering a timely pass to Harry Hayes who batted it on for Jordi Mazzone to cross untouched. Joash Papalii converted from the sideline to put his side up by two.

Chancing their arm on the resuming set, Canterbury-Bankstown covered significant ground and were awarded a penalty deep in Roosters’ territory. Moving the ball back to their left edge, the Oloapu-Hayes combination found more success as the back rower steamrolled onto a pass from his five-eighth to cross for the Bulldogs’ second try.

Easts wasted no time in responding, forcing an error from the Bulldogs off the kick off and working the ball back to their right edge with Kyron Fekitoa sending Chatfield-Mooka over in the corner for his second to bring the Tricolours back within two.

Tayson Fakaosi came off the bench and exploded through a gaping hole in the defence to crash over and retake the lead for the Roosters. Tia converted from in front to head into the sheds with Easts holding a 14-10 advantage.

The Bulldogs raced out of the blocks to open the second half, receiving a penalty and a repeat set of six to put them in good stead, before Papalii played a short ball to Danny Gabrael who raced through to score. Papalii converted to put his side up by two with just under half an hour remaining.

At the end of their third-straight attacking set after forcing two dropouts, the Bulldogs looked certain to score as they shifted the ball to their left edge to expose an overlap, but desperate cover defence from the Roosters saw them spectacularly hold Mazzone up in the in-goal.

Canterbury’s left side play eventually succeeded a few minutes later, as Jonah Glover forced the defence to get back onside quickly as he scooted out of dummy half before sending the ball out wide, with Mazzone finishing the play off with his second try of the afternoon.

Papalii converted from the sideline to put the Bulldogs up beyond a converted try’s margin.

The Roosters found their way back into the contest as Salesi Foketi charged onto a pass out of dummy half, carrying defenders over the line and planting the ball down.

Tia converted from in front to make it 22-20 in favour of the Bulldogs with just six minutes remaining.

Trailing by two with one minute to play and 90 metres in front of them, the Roosters final spark of hope seemed to dwindle out as an error turned possession over, with the game ending in a narrow Grand Final defeat.

Sydney Roosters 20 (Xavier Chatfield-Mooka 2, Salesi Foketi, Tayson Fakaosi tries, Cassius Tia two goals) def by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 22.

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.