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The Sydney Roosters scored seven tries and held on for dear life to record a thrilling 42-28 win over an emotional Wests Tigers, who had their seven-match NRL winning streak ended on Sunday.
It was confirmed just over an hour before kick-off that Sonia Farah, the mother of Tigers captain and NSW State of Origin star Robbie Farah, had died, losing her battle with pancreatic cancer.
The players stood on the field for a minute's silence and Tigers stand-in skipper in Farah's absence, Benji Marshall, appeared to be in tears as a heavy mood set over a packed-out Leichhardt Oval.
However after the opening whistle blew, it only took Marshall four minutes to break the match open, with a threaded grubber forcing an error in judgement from Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello for winger Matt Utai to score.
But from there the Roosters dominated, scoring four first-half tries to put them ahead 36-10 with just under 20 minutes remaining before they were forced to hold on in the face of an exciting last-ditch flurry from the Tigers.
The home side posted four tries of their own in the final quarter of the game.
Frank-Paul Nuuausala was central in the Roosters' rampaging first half, coming up with six offloads and two try assists to help the visitors to a 24-4 lead at the break.
The New Zealand international threw a crisp pass to Aidan Guerra to give the Roosters a 6-4 lead, and after another Kiwi, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, bagged a try of his own, Nuuausala popped an offload in the 37th minute for Jake Friend to set up a gilt-edged try.
Much like Jarryd Hayne in Wednesday's State of Origin, Friend dropped the ball but managed to get a boot to it, allowing Boyd Cordner to dive over.
Future Tiger Braith Anasta then streaked 30 metres in the shadows of halftime and Lama Tasi barged over for the first try of the second half in what looked like the sealer.
However, Tigers prop Keith Galloway scored in the 56th minute, before Beau Ryan, Tim Moltzen and Chris Lawrence all crossed in a frantic six minutes in which the Tigers exhibited all their attacking might.
The Tigers trailed by eight with six minutes left and should have got a penalty in front for a high tackle on Marshall - but instead the Roosters survived and prop Martin Kennedy ended any hope of a miracle comeback.The win meant the young Roosters kept within two wins of the top eight, and their finals hopes remain alive.
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