The Sydney Roosters continue their march into the finals and will look to pile more misery onto the St George Illawarra Dragons at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium.
The Dragons couldn’t have asked for a better start when the Roosters kick off went out on the full. But they were unable to turn their early pressure into the points. Off the back of their first penalty, the Roosters marched down field and crossed for their first try through Joseph Manu. The lovely interchange of pass between the halves and fullback placed Manu on the outside of his centre and he crashed over for the opening of the night. And it wasn’t long until they crossed for another when Isaac Liu reached Luke Keary’s grubber kick before anyone else. They made it three on the trot when Tedesco split them up the middle and found debutant Billy Smith in support for his first career try. The Dragons continued to throw the ball around and get themselves into good field position but were unable to crack the solid defence. The fourth try of the match went to Victory Radley with the lock crashing through off a Cronk pass as the Roosters feigned a backline movement. Their next try looked far too easy when Cooper Cronk timed a cross field kick to perfection and Daniel Topou crossed in the corner untouched. The Dragons were hopeless to stop the rampant Roosters, who went into the break with a commanding 28 point lead.
The Dragons held up defensively for the opening of the second half and a 40/20 kick from Gareth Widdop gave them a chance to cross for their first. They came close with Tristan Sailor but the play got called back due to an obstruction and from that set the Roosters crossed through James Tedesco off a break from Cooper Cronk. The Dragons kicked out on the full and were fortunate that the Roosters made a mistake with another try beckoning. And when the Dragons earned a penalty from their next set they crossed for their first try of the match. This try was from another debutant, Tristan Sailor, who showed some decent pace to get around the chasing Roosters defenders. A Corey Norman break placed the Dragons in great position and he finished it off with a lovely kick through the line chased through by Luciano Leilua to cross for Dragons second. The Dragons continued to pile on more pressure but were unable to cross again as the Roosters wound down the remaining of the second half with controlled football. The Roosters finishing with a victory 34-12.
The Roosters have been clinical the past few weeks and it appeared they would continue on their clinical way against the Dragons as they went into the break 28-0 up. They scored the first try in the second half but after that went through a scrappy period. The Roosters went away from their game plan and could be accused of trying to move the ball around too much. The Roosters will ensure that there won’t be a similar nod off in the next few weeks.
SAILOR’S CAREER BEGINS
With Ben Hunt ruled out of the match due to concussion and their season over, Paul McGregor gave Tristan Sailor his first grade debut. The youngster chimed in at fullback and provided a timely spark for a team that is running on empty towards the end of the season. Tristan showed some glimpses of his powers and scored a fantastic try, highlighting his fast feet. With another preseason under him he will get closer to becoming a regular.
Rumours have suggested that few Dragons players have been told they can look elsewhere next year and it was clear the players used their match up against the premiers as a chance to show some character. Despite falling behind early, the Dragons put in a better effort in the second half and ended up besting the Roosters. It would have been easy for the team to fold but they kept competing to the final whistle.
Billy Smith came in for Latrell Mitchel who was a late scratching due to soreness in his thigh and didn’t let anybody down. He was tested in defence and came in for plenty of work in attack. The highlight for the youngster was his first try, supporting James Tedesco and running away for his debut try.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12
Tries: Tristan Sailor, Luciano Leilua
Goals: Gareth Widdop 2/2
Sydney Roosters 34
Tries: Joseph Manu, Isaac Liu, Billy Smith, Victor Radley, Daniel Topou, James Tedesco
Goals: Cooper Cronk 4/4, Siosiua Taukeiaho 1/2
St George Illawarra Dragons: 1. Corey Norman 2. Zac Lomax 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jonus Pearson 6. Gareth Widdop 18. Tristan Sailor 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Jackson Ford 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Tyson Frizell 14. Jeremy Lattimore 15. Korbin Sims 16. Blake Lawrie 20. Jacob Host
Sydney Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Topou 20. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. Angus Crichton 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley 14. Nat Butcher 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Poasa Faamausili 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho