Raiders win a close one to knock Roosters off top spot
The Sydney Roosters have squandered a golden opportunity to stay at the top of the NRL ladder, going down 14-12 to the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium.
The Roosters have not won in the national capital since 2010 and that hoodoo continued as a committed Raiders side notched its ninth win of the season.
Coming off four straight losses the Raiders were given little hope of shutting down the potent Roosters, who entered round 23 on top of the table and in sight of a fourth minor premiership in six years.
Off the back of two penalties, the Raiders opened the scoring with a sweeping move to their right with Jordan Rapana making the most of the space to dive over in the corner.
Sam Williams continued his excellent form with the boot in the second half of the season to nail the sideline conversion as the home side skipped out to a 6-0 lead.
Match: Raiders v Roosters
Round 23 -
Venue: GIO Stadium
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The Raiders edged away in the 15th minute after Williams slotted a penalty after Boyd Cordner was penalised for tackling a player off the ball.
Too often the Raiders this year have been under pressure in the first 20 minutes of a game, with poor discipline and penalties seeing them forced to get through a mountain of work in defence.
However, against one of the best teams in the competition, the Raiders were able control possession early and by half-time they were a perfect 19 from 19 in completions.
Canberra continued to grind away turning territory into points after a forced drop-out saw the Roosters pressured into a penalty for offside and Williams made it 10-0 in the 29th minute.
The Roosters looked set to score when Ryan Matterson poked his nose through the line with a pass to Mitchell Aubusson finding the grass and not the in-goal area.
It had been the second time the away team had threatened to open their account in the first half but were unable to convert.
In the shadows of half-time the Roosters were again under pressure after Blake Ferguson lost the ball in a one-on-one strip.
Cordner was soon after penalised for a lifting tackle and Williams kept his perfect record with the boot for the afternoon to make it 12-0 at the break.The Roosters got the perfect start to the second half when James Tedesco held up a lovely pass for Cordner who streamed through a gap to cut the lead to six.
Off the back of a surging set down the middle of the field a Josh Hodgson grubber looked to have set up the Raiders second try but Sia Soliola was unable to control the putdown.
He did not see the ball much in the first half but a damaging run by Latrell Mitchell left its mark, as Luke Bateman was taken from the field in the 51st minute for a HIA.
Mitchell was again in the thick of the action soon after when he smashed Brad Abbey in a tackle which was ruled high.
The penalty gave the Raiders great field position but a hurried kick from Blake Austin on the second tackle resulted in a cheap turnover.
Canberra lost their second player to HIA when Abbey was forced off after the hit by Mitchell.
His absence meant Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was forced to drastically reshuffle his side, with Blake Austin slotting in at fullback and Elliott Whitehead at five-eighth.
Three penalties in a row for the Roosters gave them the chance they needed to hit back as Victor Radley showed his strength to reach over and slam the ball down.
Mitchell easily added the extras and the Roosters had drawn level with 20 minutes to play.
Having lost six games this season by four points or less the Raiders were entitled to be nervous but they dug in and a 30-metre penalty goal from Williams gave them a 14-12 lead which they held until the end of the game.
News & Notes: Emre Guler became Raider No.353 as he made his NRL debut... Luke Bateman was taken from the field in the 51st minute for a HIA ... Brad Abbey was taken from the field in the 57th minute for an HIA ... Crowd 10,594 ... Next week: Canberra host the Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium on Saturday while the Roosters will clash with the Broncos at Allianz Stadium also on Saturday.