Roosters put sorry Raiders to sword in NRL

·3-min read

Canberra's sorry NRL season is all but over after a fittingly-disappointing 40-16 trouncing from the Sydney Roosters in Mackay effectively killed off their finals chances.

On a night when the Roosters moved to fourth spot as they kicked off the final round, Drew Hutchison starred at five-eighth while centre Adam Keighran scored a hat-trick.

Trent Robinson's Roosters will only finish the weekend in the top four if both Manly and Parramatta lose, unlikely considering the Sea Eagles face North Queensland.

But at least there is hope for the injury-depleted Roosters, the same can't be said for the Raiders.

On the most important night of their season, Canberra coughed up the ball at will as they completed at just 59 per cent and missed 39 tackles.

The only way they can now make the top eight is if Gold Coast lose to the Warriors and Cronulla are beaten by 74 points or more by Melbourne, which would mark the third-biggest defeat in the game's history.

Cronulla are now the firm favourites for eighth spot.

"It's an empty feeling. It's a shocking feeling," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

"We're a better team than where we have ended up on the table. But we are where we are.

"I'm not being disrespectful to the Roosters, they have had a tough year and done a good job to get where they are.

"But if we can't beat that team tonight then we are only wasting another week being up here (in Queensland) ... We'd be waiting for another week to get beaten."

Close to title favourites at the start of the season after two straight top-four finishes, Canberra will be considered the great disappointments of 2021.

Stuart admitted on Thursday night that halfback George Williams' ugly exit had "very much" impacted their season, as it coincided with several dramas and a rotten run of just two wins in 11 games between April and early July.

"We lost all our mojo and form (mid-season)," Stuart said.

"We probably don't deserve to be fighting for the eight tonight and we were poor, really poor."

Canberra looked up for Thursday night's contest early on when Elliott Whitehead and Josh Papalii crashed over, before it all fell apart for the Raiders from 12-6 up.

They had little luck in the first half, with Charne-Nicoll Klokstad penalised for contacting Matt Ikuvalu's head as he scored one try and Roosters half Lachlan Lam dropping the ball in the lead up to another.

But even so the Roosters were far the better team as Hutchison and James Tedesco starred.

Hutchison kicked with precision and ran the ball nicely, while Tedesco set up Ikuvalu for the Roosters' first try before busting downfield twice in the lead up to Keighran tries in the second half.

Angus Crichton, Ben Marschke and Lachlan Lam also bagged tries for the Roosters, while Siosiua Taukeiaho was immense up front with 180 metres.

"I'm really proud of the regular season," Robinson said.

"We've put ourselves into fourth position tonight and it applies pressure to the other teams if they want to jump above us."

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