Roosters, refs deny Raiders fairytale

Not all fairytales are meant to have a happy ending.

Just ask Canberra and the 82,000 fans at ANZ Stadium who were dominated by a sea of green.

The Raiders were arguably the better team on Sunday night but, as they've done all year, the Sydney Roosters knew how to capitalise on the big moments.

After all, it's a sign of a champion team.

And that's what the Roosters are, twice in a row now, after the 14-8 win.

On the field on Sunday night, Canberra looked like a team with nothing to lose against a Roosters side trying to defend its title.

The Roosters shot out of the blocks, but Canberra were up for it.

They soaked up the atmosphere hours before the match on the field and were animated even at halftime.

The Roosters, meanwhile, were their methodical selves. Not bothered by the groundswell of support against them, they looked as focused as ever.

They made just two errors in the second half to Canberra's seven.

But for so long, the Raiders' energy looked more powerful as they fought to overcome an 8-6 halftime deficit.

Canberra dominated field position and territory in the second half and looked dangerous every time they spread the ball left.

Jack Wighton was a justifiable Clive Churchill Medal winner at five-eighth, scoring their first try when he burst through Angus Crichton in the first half.

But the football gods weren't with them.

The defending premiers scored their first after they regained possession at their own end when a Raiders charge-down rebounded into a Roosters trainer.

Mutual infringement was correctly called by the referees and a scrum awarded to the Roosters, but it was a cruel bit of luck.

Instead of the Raiders chasing the ball down to go on the attack, the Roosters had it and after forcing a dropout on the next set, they scored through Sam Verrills in the seventh minute.

Then came an even more crucial call.

With the Raiders dominating momentum and eight minutes to go in the second half, Wighton scooped up a loose ball as referee Ben Cummins called six again.

Wighton ran it close to the line and as he did so the call was changed to last tackle. When he was brought down it was a handover.

Again, the Roosters scored on the next set, with their dominant left edge bursting down field through Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou before James Tedesco finished it.

None of that should take away from the Roosters' resilience, though.

While the Raiders threw everything at them in the second half, their defence held firm time and time again, just as it had all season.

They were forced down to 12 men for 10 minutes when Cooper Cronk was sin-binned, to howls of protest from captain Boyd Cordner.

In that time, they gave the Raiders only one chance, and even that was shut down when Tupou rushed in on Joey Leilua and forced an error.

Coach Trent Robinson had always said it was going to take a different path to defend their title.

And when it mattered most, they made history to become the first team in 26 years to successfully defend a premiership.