AAP Rugby

Canberra score upset win in GF rematch

By AAP Newswire

Undermanned but not uninspired, Canberra got one back on the Sydney Roosters when they defeated last year's premiers 24-20 in the grand final rematch on Thursday night.

A week after losing co-captain Josh Hodgson to an already swollen casualty ward, the Raiders tackled their way to an upset victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Missing at least eight players from their regular NRL side, the Raiders brought the worst out in the Roosters who were uncharacteristically sloppy against last year's runners up.

It will surely sit as one of the best wins in the club's history.

"Not many people gave us a chance tonight outside the people in the inner part of the club," said coach Ricky Stuart.

"More so the injuries and the five-day turnaround. I said last week that I don't care what people say and what people think because they don't actually know what's under the jumper and what we're built on.

"I'm proud. I'm very proud of the players. It's just another win though. We just have to keep that heart and style of play and move into the next match, now."

Josh Papalii's size and agility gave the Raiders the go-ahead try in the 66th minute as the prop jinked through the defence untouched.

It was try-for-try before Papalii busted through the line from 20 metres out to score, breaking through Mitch Aubusson and Lindsay Collins to get the Raiders in front by four.

From then, the Raiders held on for dear life.

In a stat that made coach Trent Robinson's hair curl, the Roosters made 15 errors as the Raiders piled on the pressure to score the gutsy win.

"Way too many errors in attack and defence for us. You can be willing but I thought we didn't have our starch tonight in some areas so it's really frustrating," Robinson said.

"... It's (tries through the middle) happened too many times in the last couple of weeks."

Down 12-6 at halftime, a quick try after the break levelled the scores before the Roosters cranked up the pressure.

However, after conceding a penalty at the opposite end, the Raiders responded through the middle with wily halfback George Williams stepping his way through some confused defence to score.

Earlier, with scores level at 12-all, the Raiders were penalised when Papalii retaliated to an elbow to the face from Angus Crichton while he struggled to play the ball.

With a bloody nose, the Queensland prop laid a forearm around Crichton's face as a thank you, and was penalised in front of the posts for his trouble, allowing the Roosters to go ahead by two.

The Roosters second-rower was lucky to escape unpunished, and Stuart agreed, later fuming the penalty went against Papalii.

"I don't understand why we didn't get the penalty, but when he got whacked in the nose I was pretty confident we were going to go on and win this match because they poked the bear," Stuart said.

Dual try-scorer Brett Morris copped a pair of tough knocks, landing both Jack Wighton and Williams on report.

The Roosters have now lost two of their past three games and will meet the Warriors while the Raiders will tackle South Sydney, both next Saturday.