League: Roosters not so cock-a-hoop

By Marc Ellison

Roosters 30
Raiders 4

Craig Fitzgibbon's Sydney Roosters fumbled their way to a less than convincing 30-4 victory over the Canberra Raiders at the Sydney Football Stadium. It was the Roosters' fifth win for the season, cementing their place in the top eight.

In a largely error-ridden match, Kangaroos big mouth Willie Mason was promoted to the starting line up by Roosters coach Freddie Fittler and it provided the punch up front for the Chooks to inflict yet more pain on Raiders fans.

In a sensational start to the match, Braith Anasta went bombs away, high into the rafters of the Sydney Football Stadium, and Shaun Kenny-Dowell leaped high for the Roosters to pluck the ball out of the air before offloading in the tackle to send Mitchell Aubusson over to open the scoring.

Mason let his actions do the talking and produced a display in the first quarter of the game that would have made Hercules proud. Anasta bagged the second try for the Chooks and Aubusson grabbed his first career double just minutes later.

Kiwi international Sia Soliola gave further evidence of his good recent form by making the most of Raiders fullback Bronx Goodwin's nightmare under the high ball.

The Roosters were simply far too good for the Raiders in the first half and jogged into the sheds ahead by 22-0.

Raiders coach Neil Henry must surely be counting down the days until he leaves for the warmer tropical climate of Townsville. His chances of turning around the Raiders' woeful record away from home were dealt an even harsher blow when key hooker Lincoln Withers was carried off the field with a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury shortly before half time.

Finally, Neil Henry's prayers were answered when ginger-haired NSW Origin hopeful Joel Monaghan dotted down against his former team. A scrappy third quarter of the match threatened to put most fans to sleep, as both teams struggled to assert any dominance over the other with some poor ball handling.

Willie Mason announced himself as the NRL's toughest man by calmly watching on as his trainer yanked his dislocated pinky back into place. Fitzgibbon pushed his side out to a 20-point lead with a penalty goal in the 66th minute and Mark O'Meley strolled over after ghosting through some awful defence in the final minute, killing off the Raiders.

Fitzgibbon kicked four from five, charged over 130 metres on offence and completed 20 tackles.

Roosters 30 (M Aubusson 2, Anasta, Soliola, O'Meley tries; Fitzgibbon 4, Roberts 1 goal), Raiders 4 (Monaghan try). HT: 22-0.

- Herald on Sunday

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