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Roosters Win NRL Grand Final 14-8 Thanks To Inexplicable Referee's Decision

What. A. Grand final. And what a controversy.

In front of 82,922 fans, the Sydney Roosters have won the NRL Grand Final -- becoming the first back-to-back premiers since the Brisbane Broncos in 1992-93.

And while the Roosters deserve all the credit in the world for hanging tough in a second half which the Raiders dominated, and for coming up with the big plays when it counted, all the talk will be about an inexplicable ref's decision that went against the Raiders.

Image: Getty.

The Raiders were attacking midway through the second half, and appeared to have earned a repeat set after the Roosters seemed to touch it. Referee Ben Cummins waved six again. He actually waved his arm. That meant the Raiders had a whole new set of six.

Jack Wighton allowed himself to be tackled with the ball, rather than kicking, because he believed he had six more tackles. But somehow, the ref then ruled a change-over -- in effect negating the call. How did this happen? It has not yet been adequately explained. Perhaps it never will be.

The Raiders had all the territory in the second half, but just couldn't find that knockout blow.

There was a huge moment 10 minutes into the second half when Josh Papalii was tackled close to the line just before he'd had a chance to grab the ball. Tackler Cooper Cronk was sin-binned for a professional foul.

"It can't be a sin bin but," Roosters captain Boyd Cordner pleaded with the ref.

He argued in vain. Cooper Cronk was sent to the bin for 10 minutes.

Jarrod Croker duly kicked the goal from almost in front to bring things level at 8-8. Game well and truly on. Raiders with all the running.

A sustained period of Raiders dominance followed, but they just couldn't convert the pressure into points.

The closest they came was when Joseph Leilua delayed a pass a microsecond too long, meaning the try in the corner was disallowed due to a the ball drifting forward.

Then a Roosters break. All the way up their attack end of the field they went. They got a penalty, but it was out wide, and Mitchell missed the kick. Still 8-all.

Then the six-again controversy.

And then, because the rugby league gods have an excellent sense of irony, the Roosters took it downfield straight afterwards and scored. 14-8. And of course, it was Dally M Medallist James Tedesco who scored. And of course, the entire rugby league-watching world blew up about the refs.

Jack Wighton won the Clive Churchill Medal for best on ground. It's extremely rare for a player in a losing team to win this award, and while some Roosters fans booed him, not a single person who understands the game could deny him the honour.

"I couldn't be prouder," Raiders captain Jarrod Croker said. "It's only the start for us."

Roosters captain Boyd Cordner paid credit to the retiring Cooper Cronk -- whose two-year stint at the Roosters at the end of a long career was fruitful to say the least.

THE FIRST HALF

The Sydney Roosters took an early 6-0 lead in the 2019 NRL Grand Final against the Canberra Raiders, but most league fans aren't sure they deserve it.

Their opening try -- a jinking effort to starting hooker Sam Verrills -- came after the Roosters were awarded possession at a scrum. But everyone's scratching their head about how that happened.

Here's how things played out:

  • On the end of one of the early sets, the Roosters kicked it.
  • It ricocheted off the rather large head of Raiders enforcer Sia Soliola, then hit a Roosters trainer.
  • The rules states the attacking team gets a new set of six if it hits a trainer, so the Roosters duly got a set, then scored.
  • But as pretty much everyone pointed out, the Raiders would have got the ball back if it hadn't hit the trainer.
  • So they were effectively penalised for the Roosters having a trainer on the field.
  • And here's the thing: what was a Roosters trainer doing on the field just two minutes into the game?

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The Roosters landed a penalty midway through the first half to extend the lead to 8-0. Despite the scoreline, the Raiders have played pretty well in this game.

They came back to make it 8-6 through a Jack Wighton moment of brilliance.

The Roosters got a penalty from out wide right on the halftime siren. Latrell Mitchell missed. The halftime score is 8-6. This is proving to be an excellent and very even grand final.

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