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Green dream as gritty Raiders exact grand-final revenge on Roosters

Coach Ricky Stuart deserved to take a bow for galvanising his players to lift and pinch the 24-20 win.

“Not many people gave us a chance tonight outside of the people at the club,” Stuart said.

“I said last week I don’t care what people say or think because they don’t know what’s actually under the jumper or what we’re built on.

“I’m very proud of the players. It’s just another win. We just have to keep that heart and style of play and move on to the next match.”

The only thing capable of ruining the mood in the nation’s capital is if Jack Wighton and George Williams are both suspended.

Wighton was placed on report for a first-half lifting tackle on Brett Morris, while Williams clocked Morris in the second half with a swinging left arm, which forced the Roosters’ veteran winger off the field for a head injury assessment.

To lose one half would be tough, but missing both for next Saturday’s home clash against South Sydney would be disastrous, especially with the injuries already crippling the Canberra forwards.

Roosters and Raiders players scuffle during Canberra's win.

Roosters and Raiders players scuffle during Canberra’s win.Credit:Getty Images

Stuart, however, said if Angus Crichton had escaped any sanction for elbowing Josh Papalii in the face – which sparked a melee and gifted the Roosters two points early in the second half – his pair had nothing to fear.

“If that other kid [Crichton] has nothing to answer, they’ve got nothing to answer. I’ve got a lot more to say but I don’t want to be the one whinging … again,” Stuart said.

The Roosters were chasing their seventh win from eight games since the competition resumed, and were not awful in their first back at their spiritual home.

They clung to a 12-6 half-time lead courtesy of a Brett Morris double.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson was disappointed with some of the soft tries scored down the middle of the park.

“There were way too many errors in attack and defence for us,” Robinson said. “We were willing, but I thought we didn’t have our starch tonight. It was really frustrating.”

Like they have done to so many teams already this year, the premiers pinned the Raiders deep in their own half for most of the opening 40 minutes.

Morris was able to cross after some handy footwork and a cut-out pass from James Tedesco. His second stemmed from a lovely looping Kyle Flanagan pass which sailed over the head of Nick Cotric.

But the longer the game went on, the more Canberra’s confidence grew.

Josh Papalii scores a try against the Roosters.

Josh Papalii scores a try against the Roosters.Credit:NRL Photos

Even when the Roosters slotted a penalty goal for the dubious Papalii penalty involving Crichton, the visitors refused to lose their cool.

And when big Papalii found open space and charged 20 metres for one of the easiest tries in his life with 15 minutes to go, the Raiders refused to surrender the lead.

They showed desperation in defence and kept calm like all good teams must do when points are on the line.

A late Roosters try would have been cruel.

Papalii was excellent and chalked up nearly 150 metres, even with 10 minutes in the head bin after being on the end of a crusher tackle in the opening minutes.

Wighton was also classy and played a big part in the first try for Dunamis Lui, while Williams brushed aside James Tedesco for his own four-pointer during the second-half revival.

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The Raiders could have dropped out of the eight by the end of the weekend, but fans will awake Friday starting to dream about a top-four finish again.

For the Roosters, Crichton failed to finish the match and came from the field with his right knee heavily strapped. Robinson later confirmed it may have been a medial ligament.

There could also be some concerns for Jake Friend who was involved in the crusher tackle on Papalii.

The Roosters will head to the Central Coast next Saturday to take on the Warriors.

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