The Roosters returned to form in style tonight, dealing with a mistake-riddled Raiders side in ruthless fashion. Sydney putting the Canberra men to the sword early and ending the contest before half time. Leading from the front was an impressive Willie Mason, putting a man of the match effort only a night after helping Australia secure their test win over New Zealand.
Backing up less than 24 hours after Australia’s Centenary Test win over New Zealand, Mason was at his inspirational best as the Roosters bounced back from successive losses with a dominant five tries to one win over the Raiders.
Mason starred with several bullocking runs in the first half, one which put Mitchell Aubusson across for his second try of the night in the 25th minute.
In a blistering start the Roosters raced to a 22-0 halftime lead but then put the cue in the rack with a timid second half.
Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall opened the match in style as he leapt above Canberra winger Brett Kelly to clutch Braith Anasta’s bomb and then somehow delivered a reverse one-handed flick pass for Aubusson to score after just eight minutes.
Anasta was again a standout for the Roosters with two bombs leading to tries in the opening half and barged over down the blind side for his own try in the 16th minute and will be seriously hard done by if left out of the New South Wales side when the team is named on Tuesday.
Centre Sia Soliola added the other try five minutes before half time when Setaimata Sa stripped Anasta’s bomb from Canberra fullback Bronx Goodwin and offloaded to him in open space.
Mason was given a deserved rest after 34 minutes, his first stint yielding 109 metres, from seven hit ups and one line break.
It was no coincidence that while Mason sat on the bench the Raiders worked their way back into the contest with former Rooster now Raider Joel Monaghan crossing out wide in the 48th minute to reduce the deficit to 22-4.
Raiders captain Alan Tongue conceded a penalty for dissent in the 64th minute after back chatting referee Jason Robinson, Craig Fitzgibbon’s conversion stretching the lead beyond three converted tries.
Canberra’s inept ball handling crippled any chance of fighting their way within reach and prop Mark O’Meley added insult to injury by strolling over in the 79th minute to consign Canberra to their third straight defeat.
Adding to their woes hooker Lincoln Withers was carried off on the half hour with a suspected season-ending knee injury and is likely to be the third Raider ruled out for 2008 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament along with William Zillman and Phil Graham.
Roosters forward Nate Myles did not return after limping off in the 45th minute with a right ankle complaint, which may concern Queensland Origin selectors, while skipper Craig Fitzgibbon lost some teeth in the first half that were never recovered.