NYC Roosters seal preliminary final berth
The Roosters have staved off a furious Cronulla comeback to progress to the Holden Cup preliminary finals following a nail-biting 28-18 win at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
It looked like it would be a second consecutive blowout in the space of seven days in the nation's capital when the Tricolours raced out to a comfortable 22-6 lead, but two quick tries set up a tense finish before Jarred Anderson sealed the win with his second try of the night on the stroke of full-time.
The Roosters will now play the Dragons in a blockbuster clash next week with the winner to advance through to the grand final.
The Sharks got off to the perfect start when Eddie Faalua proved too big and too strong from close to the line to reach out and slam it down to give his side the lead after nine minutes.
Lachlan Stein looked to have doubled the lead just two minutes later but the Sharks centre had his effort ruled out for a double movement.
It could have been a whole lot worse for the Tricolours who were starved of any ball or territory in the opening 20 minutes, but a blocked kick and a lengthy run down field swung momentum the Roosters' way.
Recently inducted NYC Team of the Year member Joseph Manu took full advantage of the rare opportunity to crash through some brittle goal-line defence to level the scores midway through the first half.
They were in again a minute later when their other centre, Jarred Anderson, finished off some nice work by Grant Garvey out of dummy-half after the Sharks had sent the kick-off out on the full.
With momentum well and truly on their side, the Roosters stormed into the sheds with a 10-point lead thanks to Garvey who did it all himself from five metres out to cap the stunning first-half turnaround.
The change of ends did little to halt the Roosters as prolific winger Bernard Lewis latched onto a perfect cut-out pass from Paul Momirovski to cross for his 18th try of the season.
Needing to be the next team to score, the Sharks turned to their skipper for inspiration, and just like he's done all year, Jayden Brailey delivered to send Jayden Walker over with his 32nd try assist of 2016.
The dynamic No.9 was at it again five minutes later as he first won a penalty for the markers not being square, and then put Stein over two plays later to cut the Roosters' lead to just four points.
Sharks fullback Will Kennedy looked to have levelled the scores in the 68th minute only to be denied by the officials after they deemed he had been held up by some desperate Roosters defence.
The Roosters almost made them pay from the very next set when Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck crossed following an Isaac Lumelume error only for the review officials to disallow the try after a captain's challenge from Cronulla.
Kennedy had a chance to steal it at the death when he put down a potential intercept with no one in front of him before Anderson put the result beyond doubt two minutes from full-time.
Sydney Roosters 28 (Jarred Anderson 2, Joseph Manu, Grant Garvey, Bernard Lewis tries; Jesse Marschke 4 goals) defeated Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18 (Eddie Faalua, Jayden Walker, Lachlan Stein tries; Jack Williams 3 goals) at GIO Stadium. Half-time: 16-6 Roosters.