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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The reigning premiers won't win the minor premiership, but they continued their solid formline heading into finals - the Roosters came away 22-6 winners over the Penrith Panthers at the SCG tonight, with the away side now all but out of the finals race.
The loss for Penrith leaves them on 22 points, two points shy of the Sharks in eighth place. With their differential blowing out to -105, the men from the foot of the mountains will require a mathematical miracle to make finals - and even that chance could evaporate tomorrow if Cronulla overcome the Raiders.
Fans of the Tricolours have no major concerns other than bragging rights heading into the final round - the Storm's win over Manly earlier tonight means the Roosters can't finish higher or lower than second - but that didn't stop them enjoying a relatively clinical performance.
Penrith didn't make it all easy though - early on the visitors were comfortable in their game play, putting the Roosters on the back foot, and they capitalised just three minutes in when Viliame Kikau steamed over on the left edge.
After rebalancing, the Tricolours were next on the board at the 15 minute mark, a quick-fire pair of tries from Sam Verrills - who exposed some poor middle defending near the line from dummy half - and James Tedesco (on the back of a long-range effort started by an Angus Crichton line break) putting the hosts in front 12-6.
Neither side troubled the scoresheet again before the break, but a controversial Bunker referral close to halftime had Penrith fans frustrated after Reagan Campbell-Gillard was ruled to have obstructed Zane Tetevano by stopping in the line, despite Tetevano initiating the contact. Jared Maxwell's call from the Bunker was no try - in support of the on-field call by Henry Perenara - and the visitors went into halftime down by six points as a result.
Some injury concerns arose from the early part of the second half - Siosiua Taukeiaho went off clutching his ribs seven minutes after the break and didn't return, while Viliame Kikau spent 15 minutes off the round owing to a Head Injury Assessment.
At the 49 minute mark, the home side put further distance on the opposition with a Latrell Mitchell try, set up neatly by Verrills on the left side. Despite missing the conversion of his own four-pointer, Mitchell added two points a couple of minutes later from a penalty goal.
The Panthers' attack didn't offer a whole lot as they attempted to get back in the game, coming close on only a couple of occasions - the most notable being a pair of Campbell-Gillard surges at first receiver near the line. The first fell short with the second seeing the former Kangaroo representative lose the ball - just - and with it went Penrith's hopes of playing finals footy.
A superb late try to Daniel Tupou down the left sideline, set up by Latrell Mitchell, iced the result for the Roosters, who took a 22-6 scoreline to fulltime.
The premiers will finish 2nd on the table as a result of this weekend's results, and host a week one qualifying final at the SCG. Before that though, they'll be visiting rivals South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Thursday in the final round.
Penrith's campaign will wrap up next Sunday afternoon as they host the last regular season game of 2019, their opponents being Newcastle.
Sydney Roosters 22 - Penrith Panthers 6
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Halftime Score: Sydney Roosters 12 Penrith Panthers 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Sam Verrills
2 points - James Tedesco
1 points - Angus Crichton
SYDNEY ROOSTERS (22)
Tries: Sam Verrills, Latrell Mitchell, James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou
Conversions: Latrell Mitchell (2/4)
Penalty Goals: Latrell Mitchell (1/1)
PENRITH PANTHERS (6)
Tries: Viliame Kikau
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (1/1)