Lee Gaskin August 18, 2012
Josh Dugan just fails to ground the ball for a try. Photo: Colleen Petch
Sydney Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello was sensationally sent off as the Canberra Raiders marched into finals calculations.
The Raiders are back on the fringe of the top eight after holding on to beat the Roosters 24-20 at a chilly Canberra Stadium tonight.
The Raiders (11-11) are level on competition points with the Brisbane Broncos and Wests Tigers but have an inferior points differential.
For the Roosters, their 14th loss of the season leaves them in danger of claiming the wooden spoon.
Minichiello was given his marching orders for a forearm to the head of Raiders counterpart Josh Dugan in the 75th minute.
Players from both sides charged in as Dugan laid motionless on the ground.
Dugan returned to finish off the game.
Slow starts have become the norm for the Raiders.
They conceded the first points for the fourth week in a row, Shaun Kenny-Dowall stepping past soft defence to open the scoring in the eighth minute.
But despite having the lead, the Roosters lacked discipline and gifted the Raiders perfect field position.
It wasn’t long before Joel Thompson pounced on a clever Sam Williams grubber kick to level the scores.
More errors from the visitors allowed the Raiders to heap on the pressure.
It paid off as second-rower Josh Papalii proved unstoppable from close range.
The Raiders were in control but only had a six-point advantage to show for their dominance in the first half hour.
Just as Papalii barged his way over, fellow Kiwi Frank Paul-Nuuausala did the same to ensure the Roosters went into half-time on level pegging.
With their season on the line, the Raiders didn’t hesitate in taking a penalty goal from 10m out to put their noses back in front.
Blake Ferguson extended the margin with a superb sprint 50m down the right sideline for his eighth try of the year.
The video referee was in the spotlight for the second-straight night, Brad Takairangi denied an equaliser when Paul Mellor couldn’t decide whether the Roosters centre had grounded the ball.
He flashed up the ref’s call signal, with Jarrod Croker deemed to have held him up.
The Roosters had justice a few minutes later when Jack Bosden pounced on a bouncing ball to level the scores for the third time.
Reece Robinson scored in a similar vein to put the Raiders back in front, while the Roosters had a try denied for a forward pass.
The game reached its flashpoint when Anthony Minichiello was sent off for a forearm to the head of Josh Dugan, players from both sides running in as the Raiders fullback lay on the ground.
Roosters captain Braith Anasta protested the decision intensely, but it didn’t matter, Croker slotting the penalty goal to extend the gap to eight points.
Moga scored in the left-hand corner to force a thrilling ending.
But a desperate lunge from Raiders forward Joe Picker to push Kenny-Dowall over the sideline after the full-time siren finished the contest.