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With Sia Soliola, Corey Horsburgh, Emre Guler, Josh Hodgson and John Bateman missing, the under-manned Green Machine pack found a way to lift and defeat the formidable Roosters through the middle – much to the delight of coach Ricky Stuart.

Starting props Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui were powerful, lock Joe Tapine was a massive handful and lesser lights like Ryan Sutton and Kai O'Donnell played their roles well.

"Proud," was Stuart's one-word summation of the 24-20 win.

"It's just another win though, we've got to keep that heart and style of play and move into the next match now."

Papalii in particular was inspirational, with Stuart questioning why the Maroons and Kangaroos prop was penalised for reacting to an elbow to the nose from Angus Crichton.

The final moments of the grand final rematch

"When he got whacked in the nose, I don't understand why we didn't get the penalty but when he got whacked in the nose like that I was pretty confident we would go on to win the match because you don't poke the bear.

"We had a good talk, Papa [and I], one thing about Papa is he's a very honest guy who analyses his game very honestly.

"He knew himself he had to step up to the better standard of player. We're running off the back of him and Joe Tapine at the moment. He's really lifted his standard of play and the last two weeks he's been a credit to himself as well."

Match Highlights: Roosters v Raiders

Lui and Papalii each scored crucial tries with Papalii punching out over 200 metres while Tapine contributed 159 metres and helped set up Lui's try.

Stuart praised the debut of young Fijian winger Semi Valemei, playing the second half after Michael Oldfield was taken off with hamstring tightness.

"He did a great job," Stuart said.

"He got the opportunity at half time through Michael Oldfield's tight hammy. I was really pleased for Semi and I'm sure a lot of people in Fiji would have been watching the game. Those sort of moments are very nice. He's a beaut young man."