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Robbo coach of the year as Roosters end finals hopes for Raiders of the lost spark

Canberra had everything to play for, but Robinson’s Roosters never missed a beat.

When asked after the game if he would have settled for finishing as high as fourth at the start of the year, Robinson said: “No. But I wouldn’t have taken the injuries either. You always want to finish first.

“The longer the season has gone, the cards we’ve been dealt have been different, and I’m really proud of the way we’ve played.

“But you don’t ever settle. If you’re in the fight you want to keep going.

“Now it’s time to go for us. This is when it really counts. We know where we’re at as a team, and we know the things that have been for and against us, but nobody cares.

“You need to get ready to play some good footy.”

The game was as good as over early in the second half when Adam Keighran crashed over the tryline – via a collision into an upright with his back – for a hat-trick of tries.

Canberra needed to win to give themselves a chance to scrape into the final eight. Plenty of good judges tipped them to win the premiership before a ball was kicked at the start of the year. But they were their own worst enemies in the first half as they completed just 11 of their 17 sets.

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Winger Semi Valemei had a game to forget with no shortage of errors, including a knock-on that led to Keighran’s first try.

Stuart could not hide his disappointment, especially with the season on the line against a Roosters side missing key personnel.

“I’m not being disrespectful to the Roosters, they’ve had a tough year and done a really good job getting to where they are, but if we can’t beat that team out there tonight, we’re just wasting another week being up here [in Queensland] … it’s no good waiting another week to get beaten,” Stuart said.

The mid-season slump and George Williams’ ugly exit back home to England did not help the Raiders’ cause.

There was a bit of drama in the first half in Mackay when the touch judges put their flags up for a Keighran conversion, even though his left-foot snap appeared to have swerved left across the face of goal.

Andrew Johns quipped during the half-time commentary on Nine that he thought he was “cross-eyed” when watching replays.

Adam Keighran is in pain after colliding with a post when scoring his third try of the night.

Adam Keighran is in pain after colliding with a post when scoring his third try of the night.Credit:Getty

Fortunately, the blunder did not have an impact on the final result.

The Roosters will welcome the return of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who was a late scratching against the Raiders.

Victor Radley will also return from suspension, while Angus Crichton will strip fitter second-up after his comeback game from his own ban, as will returning duo Josh Morris and Matt Ikuvalu.

Rookie playmaker Sam Walker started on the bench and only featured in the last five minutes, which will keep him fresh for whatever awaits next weekend.

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