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Sydney Roosters 28 def Canberra Raiders 4

PESSIMISTIC Roosters fans expected nothing but a loss coming into their clash against Canberra on Sunday. After a woeful 40-points loss to South Sydney and last year’s 34-12 capitulation in the corresponding match in the nation’s capital, fans from Bondi Junction expected much of the same... and their fears would have been heightened just four tackles into the match after conceding two penalties.

But the Roosters’ defensive line held strong and repelled wave after wave of Raiders’ attack until they scored themselves in the 26th minute when a hobbling Anthony Minichiello, flung to the wing to recover from an ankle injury, stretched out centimetres inside the western touchline to open the scoring.

The Roosters continued to dominate the slugfest and scored four more tries before the Raiders scored on the bell.

The Game Swung When... Joel Monaghan’s dropped ball in the 47th minute was a turning point in the match. Down just 4-0, Monaghan jumped for a rising grubber on the Roosters’ line but on referral from the video referee was judged to have knocked the ball on to inside support to score.

Just five minutes later rival back Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored for the Roosters after a good sleight of hands and from then the opportunity for the Raiders was gone.

Who Was Hot... Dumped Roosters captain and former Blue and Kangaroo Craig Fitzgibbon continues to revel in the NRL despite being one of the oldest players in the competition.

The bald workhorse ran for more than 110 metres and continued to provide the necessary momentum for the Roosters’ scheming backs to dominate. He led the pack and the forwards led the way to victory.

Who Was Not... Exciting flankman Justin Carney had an afternoon to forget. Carney made the biggest impression at the end of the second half – an illegal mid-air hit on a Rooster.

Earlier in the first half he was berated by five-eighth Terry Campese for a miscalculated pass in his own half and later in the match made a terrible blunder off a Mitchell Pearce bomb that led directly to Braith Anasta’s first try.

While other players made more errors than his two in the match, his proved extremely costly.

Had To Be Seen To Be Believed... In the 1990s there was Harragon v Carroll... now there’s Josh Miller v Mark O’Meley. These two will provide a moment replayed many times in 2009.

Carting the ball inside his half ‘Shrek’ received one of the most brutal hits in NRL memory. Flying out of the defensive line in the 55th minute, Raider Miller didn’t miss with his angled hit on the Rooster... and it left Miller dazed and confused. It’s bound to be remembered as one of the hits of the year.

Refs Watch... Jared Maxwell and Gerard Sutton were kept busy in this very physical, at times dour battle.

From the opening set where Maxwell blew two penalties, both teams tested the boundaries but both whistlemen held firm.

Early in the match Maxwell, the senior referee, controversially put an end to the Roosters’ calls for a try – he listened to and trusted his linesman’s call of forward pass. It proved to be the correct call.

Later in the match Sutton warned Roosters captain Anasta to keep his cool after Carney’s dangerous tackle – his words kept the aggression to a minimum.

Injuries... This clash will have a great impact on the line-ups for both sides for their Round 3 matches.

Both sides suffered injuries and early reports are they could keep players out for weeks to come. In just the 21st minute in his first touch of the match, Raiders prop Troy Thompson suffered a knock to his left leg – he didn’t return.

Moments later Minichiello’s leg buckled under the pressure of several Raiders players when attempting to score a try. He was later taken to hospital for x-rays on his ankle. He played on for several minutes, even scoring a try, but left after putting his club in the lead.

Early on Canberra hooker Glen Buttriss suffered an ankle injury but battled on, playing time in the Raiders’ backline. He failed to recover and didn’t feature after half-time. Best & Fairest... 3 points – Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters): Led the pack and kept his team on the front foot; 2 points – Braith Anasta (Roosters): Scored two tries and provided direction for his charges; 1 point – Terry Campese (Raiders): Kicked two amazing 40/20s in the first half and tried to spark his team-mates into action.

Roosters 28 (B Anasta 2, A Minichiello, S Kenny-Dowall, M Pearce tries; C Fitzgibbon 3, Kenny-Dowall goals) def Raiders 4 (B Harrison try) at Canberra Stadium. Crowd: 13,100.

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National Rugby League respects and honours 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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