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J-Moz celebrates 300th in style with exhilarating win over Raiders

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

It's only round 17, but GIO Stadium was the closest thing to a crystal ball, described by milestone man Josh Morris as a "dress rehearsal for the finals" post-game.

It didn't disappoint.

With fourth spot and a double finals chance up for grabs, the intensity was sky-high and we were treated to a first-half for the ages.

Canberra narrowly won the possession and completion battles, but Sydney won on the scoreboard. The sides couldn't be split.

All it took was one Semi Valemei error to draw the curtains on an even opening. The fourth-gamer lost possession ten metres from his own line and James Tedesco pounced, punishing a scrambling defence.

Ad-lib brilliance meant Canberra wouldn't have to wait for a reply. Jordan Rapana got his hands to George Williams' chip, and the Steeden found its way to John Bateman whose brilliant vision uncovered an unmanned in-goal and he didn't hesitate, chasing down his own grubber to come up with points.

The two-time reigning premiers reassumed control when Daniel Tupou used Nick Cotric as a stepladder to collect Kyle Flanagan's inch-perfect chip with a specky that belonged on the MCG.

Tupou flies with an AFL-esque hanger

As the sun set on the first half, a Tupou error and Luke Keary penalty meant a Raiders retaliation beckoned, but it wasn't to be, Sydney taking a slender 10-6 lead at half-time.

Canberra bought their trademark grit after the break, only conceding eight second-half points against an electric Roosters outfit. But it wasn't enough as they struggled to hit the scoreboard, and were slain valiantly.

World-class fullback James Tedesco was the lead assailant, ensuring Josh Morris was able to celebrate his 300th in style with 227 run metres, 15 tackle-breaks, two line-breaks and two tries.

J-Moz was done no favours in game 300

A 53rd minute 40-metre penalty goal from Kyle Flanagan made amends for his missed conversion, and stretched the margin to a converted try.

More than 2000 Sonny Bill Williams-less days in the NRL were bought to an end when he was finally introduced by Trent Robinson in the 58th minute, albeit for a brief 13-minute stint.

The Raiders were dealt a killer blow when Flanagan's lightning hands opened enough space for Tedesco to work his magic, evading Jack Wighton before collecting his grubber's fortunate deflection and sliding home, taking the game to its ultimate 18-6 scoreline in the process.

Wighton came tantalisingly close to moving Canberra within striking distance late, but couldn't take control of George Williams' chip.

The Raiders are left with a nervous wait as Josh Papalii will be sent for scans to determine the severity of an injury to his shoulder's AC joint that saw him leave the field in the 30th minute and never return.

The win moves Sydney into third for the time being, and they appear to have secured a critical top-four berth, whilst Canberra remain in fifth and are less than likely to earn a double chance.



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