Sydney Roosters 14-8 Canberra Raiders: Tedesco seals controversial Grand Final victory for reigning premiers

By Sports Desk October 06, 2019

Sydney Roosters became the first team to win back-to-back premierships in the NRL era with a nail-biting 14-8 triumph over a dogged Canberra Raiders.

Star full-back James Tedesco crossed eight minutes from the end of a hard-fought and ultimately controversial contest to send the retiring Cooper Cronk out a winner at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

The Raiders, on top for long periods, had moments earlier been on the wrong end of a reversed decision for a fresh set of six that forced a handover heading into the closing stages.

Jack Wighton's converted try and a Jarrod Croker penalty earlier brought Ricky Stuart's men level after they fell eight points behind in the first half but their first Grand Final appearance in 25 years ended in agony.

Defence had been the cornerstone of Canberra's unexpected run to the premiership decider but the Roosters needed just six minutes to pierce the armour.

Boyd Cordner went close before Sam Verrills, in his 14th NRL appearance, darted out of dummy half and opened the scoring next to the upright.

There was a setback for the Roosters when Mitchell Aubusson suffered a game-ending knee injury as the result of last-ditch defending on his own line but another two points from Latrell Mitchell's boot softened the blow.

Joe Tapine had gifted away the penalty with a high tackle on Victor Radley that left the dazed lock in need of a concussion test.

The Raiders steadied and earned a deserved foothold before the interval following a largely subdued Tedesco's failure to hold a high kick, which gave Wighton the chance to slice through and reduce the deficit back to two points for an improving Canberra.

Bursts from Joseph Leilua and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad imbued them with more momentum at the start of the second half and led to a real opening for Stuart's side.

Cronk, in his ninth Grand Final, headed for the sin bin after being adjudged to have tackled Josh Papalii without the ball.

The video referee decided against awarding a penalty try but Croker's successful penalty leveled the score at 8-8.

Canberra looked to have taken advantage of the extra number when Jordan Rapana crossed in the corner, but a sloppy last pass from Leilua had gone forward off the ground.

Mitchell squandered an opportunity to edge the Roosters back ahead yet the door swung back open when the Raiders were forced to hand the ball over on the fifth tackle of a promising attack, despite six-again having seemingly been signalled before Wighton allowed himself to be tackled. 

The Roosters surged forward and Mitchell and Leilua combined to send Dally M Medal winner Tedesco in for the winning try.

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