Tedesco stars as Roosters run rampant over Raiders

Jacob Shteyman |

James Tedesco scored two tries to lead the Roosters to a crushing 44-16 win over Canberra.
James Tedesco scored two tries to lead the Roosters to a crushing 44-16 win over Canberra.

The free-scoring Sydney Roosters have reasserted their credentials as title contenders with a crushing 44-16 win over Canberra at GIO Stadium.

The Roosters’ fifth consecutive score of 30 or more lifted them to fifth in the ladder as they bounced back from an eight-point defeat at Cronulla last time out.

If there were any question marks over incumbent NSW Blues captain James Tedesco’s selection for Michael Maguire’s first State of Origin side, he surely put them to bed on Saturday afternoon.

The Roosters fullback was electric in his final audition, scoring two tries and setting up three more as his side’s backline tormented the Canberra defence.

But the 31-year-old was unassuming post-game.

James Tedesco.
Tedesco was a constant threat as the Sydney Roosters got the better of Canberra. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

“It wasn’t about making a statement, it’s just about playing footy and doing my best for us to win the game,” he said.

“And we’ll see what happens off the back of that.”

It was all too easy, all too often for Tedesco and centres Joey Manu and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii. 

Canberra’s edge defence coughed up tackle bust after tackle bust – something you can’t afford to do when coming up against one of the “benchmark” teams in the competition, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart lamented.

“Have a look at the wonderful talent they have in that team,” he said. 

“You can’t miss 60 tackles, so that’s on us.”

Manu was unstoppable as he registered two tries and two line-breaks, while Suaalii and back-rower Angus Crichton scored a try each as they pressed their Origin claims.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson thought his men had done enough to warrant inclusion in the Blues squad, and backed prop Lindsay Collins for the Maroons.

“You want as many guys in Origin as possible,” he said. 

“It hurts next week’s game but you get really excited for them, you love watching your guys play.”

The Roosters stormed out of the blocks, their early attacking intensity unmatched by the Raiders’ defence.

After Victor Radley opened the scoring for the visitors, video referee Adam Gee awarded the Roosters a penalty try, with Morgan Smithies deemed to have held back Luke Keary as the five-eighth steamed on to a Sam Walker grubber kick.

The Raiders clawed back through a Nick Cotric try, before Manu scored his first to send the Roosters into the break leading 18-6.

Whatever Stuart told his charges at halftime had little effect as Tedesco extended the lead less than two minutes after the resumption.

Despite tries to Hudson Young and Kaeo Weekes, the Raiders never looked in the contest in the second period.

“In what I thought was a very well-beaten football team tonight, (Young) was a shining light for us and he deserves to be selected in Origin,” Stuart said.

Hudson Young scores a try.
Hudson Young did his Origin chances no harm with a consolation try for the Raiders. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Worryingly for Robinson, second-rower Egan Butcher was withdrawn with a knee injury, while Radley was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Jordan Rapana.

The Raiders will be bitterly disappointed to have treated their fans to a second insipid home performance in a row after a 40-0 mauling at the hands of the Sharks, killing the positive momentum from two stirring come-from-behind wins in between.

“I felt sorry for the fans that turned up,” Canberra captain Elliott Whitehead said.

“We showed in the last two weeks what we are capable of … and to put out a performance like that is not the standard we want.”