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Sydney Roosters beat Canberra Raiders to claim NRL top spot

The Sydney Roosters have edged out Canberra 28-22 to seize sole possession of the NRL competition lead for the first time since the Brad Fittler-led golden era of almost a decade ago.

With five-eighth James Maloney starring, the Roosters ran in five tries to four to also take a stranglehold on the minor premiership following South Sydney's latest slip-up on Friday night against Melbourne.

The Roosters haven't won the minor premiership since 2004 in Fittler's last season.

The former Australian captain led the foundation club to 10 straight finals series - including four grand finals in five years - and the Roosters to their last title in 2002.

But they haven't topped the table outright since his retirement - until now.

With a vastly superior points differential to Souths and a softer run home than the second-placed Rabbitohs, the Roosters could conceivably even lose their round-26 showdown with their fierce inner-city rivals in four weeks at ANZ Stadium and still clinch the JJ Giltinan Shield.

The Roosters took a while to hit their stride on Saturday night, but three tries in 13 minutes either side of halftime ultimately sealed Canberra's fate.

Maloney, who had a hand or boot in three tries and finished with a personal haul of 12 points, opened the scoring with a 60-metre intercept effort in the 12th minute.

His conversion made it 6-0, but the Raiders struck back to level the scores shortly after when interchange forward crossed for a soft try and centre Jarrod Croker converted from in front.

A tryscoring double to NSW State of Origin centre Michael Jennings, the first off a Maloney bomb and the second off a short pass from fellow Blues half Mitchell Pearce, earned the Roosters a 16-6 advantage after 36 minutes.

Playing his first match since being suspended for a nightclub incident during the Origin series, classy centre Blake Ferguson had the Raiders back within striking distance with a trademark four-pointer on the stroke of halftime.

Ferguson stepped Roosters winger Daniel Tupou and bumped off fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to touch down in the corner.

But tries to wingers Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Tupou, the second from a beautiful double cut-out pass from Maloney, in the 42nd minute and 48th minutes shot the Roosters out to a 28-10 lead.

The Raiders weren't done, though, with Ferguson setting up a tense final five minutes after setting up winger Sandor Earle for a try with a 40-metre burst and then charging through four defenders to bag his second of the night.

Croker's sideline conversion edged the Raiders to within six points of the Roosters, but they were unable to conjure the converted try needed to force golden-point extra time.

The Roosters' milestone win may have come at a cost, with Origin back-rower Boyd Cordner, co-captaining the side with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the absence of injured fullback Anthony Minichiello, limping off with 15 minutes remaining.

Early reports had Cordner needing an x-ray for an ankle injury, while Canberra captain Terry Campese may require scans too for a possible fractured cheekbone after also being hurt late on.

The loss leaves the seventh-placed Raiders vulnerable to falling out of the top eight this weekend.

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