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Mini meltdown as Raiders roll on

Date

Lee Gaskin

Raiders 24 Roosters 20

You're off! ... Roosters veteran Anthony Minichiello is given his marching orders by referee Alan Shortall after a high shot on Raiders fullback Josh Dugan at Canberra Stadium last night.

You're off! ... Roosters veteran Anthony Minichiello is given his marching orders by referee Alan Shortall after a high shot on Raiders fullback Josh Dugan at Canberra Stadium last night. Photo: Colleen Petch

BLOODY, battered and bruised - the Canberra Raiders survived a stern examination from the Sydney Roosters to keep their finals hopes alive.

MATCH STATS/BLOG

Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello was sent off for a forearm to the head of Josh Dugan as the Raiders hung on for a gritty 24-20 victory at a chilly Canberra Stadium last night.

Josh Dugan just fails to ground the ball for a try.

Josh Dugan just fails to ground the ball for a try. Photo: Colleen Petch

Roosters coach Brian Smith took the unusual step of telling journalists in his post-match press conference that he could not comment because he could be in breach of NRL guidelines.

''Before we start, the league have given us a warning not to talk about foul play incidents, or alleged foul play incidents, so we won't be making any comment about that,'' Smith said.

Minichiello was said to be stunned, while Dugan had blood pouring from his chin.

The incident occurred when, after initially missing a tackle on Dugan, Minichiello appeared to launch himself at his opposite number. Dugan crashed immediately to the turf and a melee began, which drew players from both sides.

The referees had no hesitation in sending Minichiello from the ground. The incident is sure to attract attention from the match review committee later in the week.

Neither player was available for comment.

Raiders coach David Furner said Minichiello did not have any intent to harm Dugan and was doing whatever it took to keep his side in the game.

''I think you could see it,'' Furner said. ''I don't think he's that sort of player, but sometimes you're trying to win games.''

It was the second time the game reached a flashpoint, after Raiders lock Shaun Fensom threw a punch at a Roosters player earlier.

Raiders captain David Shillington was not surprised the match boiled over given the physical players in the Roosters line-up.

''They've got a couple of players there that are quite confrontational and want to play up in your face,'' he said. ''We were expecting that.''

The Raiders have now won three straight games for the first time since the 2010 finals to even their season ledger at 11-11.

They are level on competition points with the seventh-placed Brisbane Broncos and the Wests Tigers, but are outside the top eight with an inferior points differential.

The Raiders have a tricky run home to make the play-offs.

They host the ladder-leading Canterbury Bulldogs on Friday night before heading across the Tasman to round out the regular season against the struggling New Zealand Warriors in Auckland.

The Raiders were expected to easily account for a Roosters side with nothing to play for but avoiding the wooden spoon. But despite electing to abandon a training session on Friday in Canberra because of the wet and cold weather, the Roosters put up a fight in more ways than one.

Smith took aim at the officials for some costly calls that did not go his way. First, was a forward pass that denied Mitchell Pearce a try, followed by the video referee decision to not award a four-pointer to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck when he was held up. When asked where the match was lost, Smith replied: ''A little bit in the video referee's box - I think it might have been the far touch judge called a forward pass,'' he said.

CANBERRA 24 (B Ferguson J Papalii R Robinson J Thompson tries J Croker 4 goals) bt SYDNEY ROOSTERS 20 (J Bosden S Kenny-Dowall T Moga F Nuuausala tries B Anasta 2 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 8,860.

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