Sonny Bill Williams made his NRL return but James Tedesco was the star of the Sydney Roosters’ 18-6 victory over the Raiders at Canberra Stadium.
- The Wests Tigers scored three late tries in the space of eight minutes to help overhaul the Sea Eagles
- The Tigers still have an outside chance of playing finals courtesy of the victory
- The Titans posted a second consecutive win by beating the Bulldogs 18-14
In the most hyped NRL return in years, Williams played 14 minutes after being booed onto the field by Raiders supporters when he entered the field in the second half.
He was hit hard by Dunamis Lui on his first carry, but still managed to get an offload away for Luke Keary, and finished with four touches in the middle.
The dual international left the field with eight minutes to play in his first rugby league match since last turning out for Toronto Wolfpack in March.
Earlier on Saturday evening, the Wests Tigers launched an incredible comeback to beat Manly 34-32, and Gold Coast recorded a gritty 18-14 triumph over Canterbury.
While Williams was the focus in his first NRL match in six years, Tedesco was again the standout for the Roosters.
The Roosters fullback bagged his first double in almost three months, doing it himself both times in the crucial win.
His second try was the most important of the match, taking the Roosters’ lead to 12 points midway through the second half and giving the visitors complete control.
On a positive night for the two-time defending premiers, Keary and Angus Crichton got through their returns from injury unscathed.
The win momentarily moves the Roosters to third on the ladder and — given their superior for-and-against — wins in two of their remaining three matches would wrap up a top-four spot.
The Raiders, meanwhile, were left to rue their missed opportunities, with their lone try coming from John Bateman.
They will finish the round in fifth position on the ladder.
Wests Tigers stun Sea Eagles
Manly has given up its slim chances of playing NRL finals this season with a stunning late collapse against the Wests Tigers at Brookvale Oval.
The Sea Eagles led by eight points with 11 minutes to play before the Tigers laid on three tries — including an Adam Doueihi double — for a remarkable win.
Doueihi, playing in the centres, crossed for a try with just two minutes on the clock to level the scores at 32-all before kicking the conversion to snatch victory.
A hat-trick of tries from winger David Nofoaluma set up the frenzied finish on Saturday night, which resigned the Sea Eagles to their sixth-straight loss.
The Sea Eagles looked set to cruise to victory after a powerful first half in which they led by 14 points after 28 minutes.
It was set up with four tries, three of which were created by Daly Cherry-Evans.
The star halfback was in supreme touch, firing a pass to Morgan Harper to score with his first touch in Manly colours just three minutes into the match.
He then set up Jorge Taufua and Jack Gosiewski, before fullback Tevita Funa’s brilliance saw him dance through the defence to score.
A landslide of possession and a high completion rate helped Manly shoot to a 20-6 lead, with the Tigers scoring on their first dalliance in territory through Nofoaluma.
With his second career hat-trick, the spirited winger helped devise the comeback along with halfback Luke Brooks, who set up the final try for Doueihi.
The stunning loss will come as a sour blow for the Sea Eagles, who appear to have lost winger Jorge Taufua for the rest of the season with an Achilles tendon injury.
Debutant Sea Eagles five-eighth Josh Schuster was also taken from the field late in the match with a severe leg cramp he sustained while putting up a kick.
The Tigers now have an unlikely shot at a finals berth if they win all three of their remaining matches against South Sydney, Melbourne and Parramatta, but other results will also need to go their way.
Foran injured in Bulldogs’ loss
Kieran Foran’s fight to extend his career appears to have taken a major blow after the veteran playmaker suffered a suspected pectoral injury in Canterbury’s loss to Gold Coast.
Foran had willed the Bulldogs back into a dour contest in Homebush on Saturday afternoon when he barged over from close range to pull his team within four points of the Titans midway through the second half.
But the off-contract 30-year-old left the field soon after following an attempted tackle on Titans fullback AJ Brimson, immediately raising fears of another right-shoulder issue.
As Foran was being attended to by medical staff, the Titans restored their eight-point advantage with a unique try to Anthony Don, set up by a cross-field kick from wing partner Corey Thompson.
Canterbury playmaker Lachlan Lewis set up a grandstand finish when he breezed past Gold Coast opposite Jamal Fogarty in the 72nd minute, however the Titans held on to claim consecutive wins for the first time in almost 18 months.
Fogarty was among Gold Coast’s most impressive performers, with front rower Moeaki Fotuaikia also shining with a match-high 201 metres off the bench.
It is the sixth straight defeat — and 12th in 13 matches — for the Bulldogs, who remain on track to finish with the wooden spoon for the first time since 2008.
The loss was compounded by the injury to a luckless Foran, whose contract expires at the end of the season and is looking for a new club.
It took just three minutes for the Titans to open up the Bulldogs’ defence, with second rower Beau Fermor bursting 80 metres down the left flank for Thompson to touch down two plays later.
Fermor continued to make his presence felt when he pounced on a Fogarty grubber in the 21st minute.
The Bulldogs appeared to get back into the contest when, after Titans duo Jaimin Joliffe and Brian Kelly exited with ankle injuries, Foran fired a cut-out pass for Nick Meaney to post their first points.
But the Titans claimed an eight-point lead at half-time when Fogarty burned Marcelo Montoya on the first play off a scrum to score in the corner.