The Roosters have booked a top-two finish and ended Penrith's 2019 finals hopes with a disciplined 24-6 win at the SCG on Saturday night.
Penrith showed impressive fight to open the scoring and repeatedly take it to the Roosters but just couldn't crack any further points and while they remain just two ladder points behind the eighth-placed Sharks, their horror points differential means even a series of favourable results wouldn't keep their season alive.
The Roosters managed to control proceedings despite Cooper Cronk sitting out, with Luke Keary – in doubt up until kick-off due to the impending birth of his child – kicking beautifully with assistance from Drew Hutchison.
James Tedesco was typically brilliant at the back while a quiet Latrell Mitchell did enough to out-score the opposition team on his own once again. There are slight concerns over Siosiua Taukeiaho (sternum/ribs) after the Tonga prop lasted just over 20 minutes.
The Panthers handed out their ninth debut of the season; Billy Burns producing some good moments as one of six season rookies in the line-up on the night but it wasn't enough to keep their season alive.
Match: Roosters v Panthers
Round 24 -
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
Penrith started the better of the two sides, marching downfield off the back of a Jared Waerea-Hargreaves penalty then pressing the line thanks to a James Maloney forced drop out before Viliame Kikau barrelled over to open the scoring just five minutes in.
It looked like normal service was resuming with a quick Roosters double strike; Sam Verrills caught the defence napping with a neat scoot before a clean break from Angus Crichton in the set after points set up a long-range team try finished off by James Tedesco.
Roosters strike from long range through Tedesco
Some end-to-end footy with drop outs for both sides ensued before Nathan Cleary stepped through the Roosters defence two minutes before half-time. The Bunker confirmed the on-field decision of no-try due to Reagan Campbell-Gillard stopping in the line, and Zane Tetevano's decision to appeal for an obstruction rather than attempt any sort of tackle paid dividends.
The Roosters managed to get in range for one final stab before the break, with Penrith charging down two field goal attempts in the one play to head into the sheds down 12-6.
Latrell Mitchell – who averages more than 16 points per game in his previous seven SCG appearances – went through the first 28 minutes of the game without making a run or a tackle but stretched the lead early in the second half when he crashed onto a nice Verrills short ball for a 16-6 scoreline.
Penrith made life hard for themselves with consecutive last-tackle penalties and the Roosters opted to take the free two points to stretch their lead to 12.
A brilliant cover tackle from Butcher denied Brent Naden a possible runaway try, Campbell-Gillard was brought down millimetres short, and a full attacking set resulting from a James Maloney 40/20 came unstuck with an error as the Bondi Wall passed several stern examinations from a desperate Panthers outfit.
Instead it was a nice flick pass from Mitchell to Daniel Tupou that put the final nail in the coffin of Penrith's 2019 season as a left-side move from the Roosters paid off in the 76th minute.
Lethal left finishes it for the Roosters