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Roosters second-rower Angus Crichton lauded the "classy" Sam Walker after the 18-year-old halfback showed sublime skills in a 26-20 trial victory against Canberra on Saturday.

Crichton was arguably his team's best performer at Seiffert Oval, proving hard to contain as he constantly ran with vigour on the left edge. 

Canberra led 16-10 at half-time when playing their strongest team, with hooker Josh Hodgson making a brilliant return from an ACL injury.

The Tricolours shot ahead after the break as coach Trent Robinson gave most of his big guns 60-plus minutes while the Raiders stars rested.

Crichton said his fresh combination with five-eighth Lachlan Lam was "building nicely", but he also enjoyed a great synergy with Walker, who replaced Drew Hutchison for the second half.

One highlight of the youngster's performance was when he whizzed a pass to Crichton, then backed up to receive an offload and score.

"It was very classy. That's the thing, you watch him play and he plays with a lot of courage," Crichton said.

"He throws those low-percentage passes and the majority of the time it comes off because he's got the skillset. Really cool head, a really good young fella and a really bright future at the Roosters."

He added that Walker, an Ipswich Jets junior who joined the Roosters last season, was "a legend kid and a really, really talented footy player with the ball in his hands".

"Usually he's defending me at training. I actually drove down here with him and he was saying he was looking forward to tackling someone else apart from me," Crichton continued.

Walker had initially been named for the NSW Cup match, in which fellow teen Joseph Suaalii scored two tries, but was instead held back for the main game.

Luke Keary, who Lam is expected to partner in round one, didn't play due to a hamstring issue.

Joe Tapine scores a try for Canberra.
Joe Tapine scores a try for Canberra. ©NRL Photos

You couldn't tell it had been 231 days since Hodgson last played as the Raiders hooker delivered a first-half masterclass.

Canberra's co-captain demonstrated that he'd lost none of his zip around the ruck despite his second career ACL injury which curtailed his 2020 season after nine rounds.

The classy Englishman made an early line-break, handled the up-tempo intensity with ease and passed for his team's first two tries.

Tom Starling, who shone last year with Hodgson sidelined, played in the preceding NSW Cup fixture against North Sydney as well as the second half of the NRL hit-out.

Canberra prop Ryan James, who has joined the club from the Titans having not played since early 2019 because of back-to-back knee injuries, backed up his preceding reserve-grade effort by cranking out a busy first half after coming off the bench.

NRL Trials: Raiders v Roosters

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Reigning Dally M Medallist Jack Wighton impressed during his 35 minutes of game time. The five-eighth dummied and stretched his way to a four-pointer under the sticks to extend the home team's advantage just before being taken off.

Both sides appeared to avoid injury, but Canberra back-rower Corey Horsburgh was put on report twice on the day.

After being placed on report for a shoulder charge during the NSW Cup trial against North Sydney, Horsburgh found himself in trouble for the same offence on Adam Keighran in the final minute of the NRL fixture.

Spine combines for the Roosters