Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters clashed in a rematch of the 2019 NRL Grand Final, but all eyes were on the return of Sonny Bill Williams to the competition after a six-year absence.
It took the Roosters just six minutes to get on the board.
Semi Valemai made an error inside his own ten-metre line, and Freddy Lussick knew were the extra-man was and shifted the ball out to James Tedesco to cross on the left-wing.
In the tenth minute, Jordan Rapana claimed George Williams high crossfield kick, and offloaded to John Bateman.
Bateman still had plenty of work to do, so kicked ahead for himself and grounded the ball with nobody around him.
Jarrod Croker then levelled the scores from the tee.
Following plenty of errors from both sides, it was the Roosters who began to win the territorial battle.
Just after the 20th minute, Kyle Flanagan chipped the ball over to the left edge, and Daniel Tupou out jumped Nick Cotric to extend the lead.
The Raiders then went through a dominant spell of their own as they forced multiple repeat sets, peppering the Roosters line.
The Roosters held on strong right until the final minute of the half when Williams pass to Rapana hit the deck, and the score remained 6-10.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 6-10 Sydney Roosters
The niggly fashion of the match continued at the start of the second half, but it was the Roosters showing slightly more dominance.
With 26 minutes to go, the Roosters were awarded a penalty over 40-metres out, which Flanagan opted the kick.
The half-back struck the ball sweetly to make it a six-point lead for the visitors.
Sonny Bill Williams entered the field of play, but his loose offload gifted the Raiders the ball.
The Roosters did manage to work their way back into the Canberra ten-metre line, with Lussick going close.
On the next tackle, Tedesco’s kick somehow ricocheted back into the full-backs hands and he ran to score behind the sticks.
With ten minutes to go, Lussick threw a pass back to Luke Keary who attempted to hit a drop-goal but the ball ricocheted off the post with the Raiders still down by 12.
Canberra knew they had to score soon to make the Roosters nervy in the final stages but Crokers pass out to Valemei wasn’t clean and the play was ushered over the touchline.
Rapana made an error inside his own 10-metre with just 30 seconds remaining, and the Roosters still rushed to the scrum.
Lussick just kicked the ball into touch after Keary went close and Sydney picked up the win.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 6-18 Sydney Roosters
Nicoll-Klokstad, Rapana, Croker, Cotric, Valemei, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Starling, Sutton, Bateman, Whitehead, Tapine
Interchanges: Havili, Lui, Young, Harawira-Naera
Goals: Croker (1/1)
Tedesco, Tupou, J Morris, Manu, B Morris, Keary, Flanagan, Waerea-Hargreaves, Lussick, Taukeiaho, Cordner, Tupouniua, Liu
Interchanges: Collins, Butcher, Williams, Crichton
Tries: Tedesco (2), Tupou
Goals: Flanagan (3/4)
Referee: G. Sutton
Touch Judges: D. Munro, Z. Przeklasa-Adamski
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @SeaEagles (twitter)