The St George Illawarra Dragons put it all together today as they railroaded the Sydney Roosters with an impressive display, 26-6. In front of a big crowd at ANZ Stadium, the Dragons came out firing from the outset and never looked back as they completed their sets and showed too much committment for a lethargic Roosters.
Wearing light blue WWII replica jerseys, last worn in 1945 when there was an ink shortage in Australia – the Roosters had no answer to the Dragons desire as they came out very strong.
The Dragons produced a high quality, composed performance for the entire eighty minutes to notch just their second victory of the season, with recalled half Jamie Soward and hooker Dean Young the standout performers.
The Roosters were lucky not to be beaten by a bigger scoreline, with Brad Fittlerâ€™s men failing to complete sets – ultimately cruelling any chance of mounting a comeback. Only Anthony Tupou was a standout for the Roosters, hitting the line hard and proving a handful for the Dragons all day – but his teammates looked dis-interested as they lost touch with the enemy.
It was a spectacular start for the besieged Dragons; Jamie Soward producing a towering bomb for Ben Hornby to climb above Roosters fullback Sam Perrett and open the scoring in just the 3rd minute, with Sowardâ€™s conversion giving the visitorâ€™s an early 6-0 lead. The Dragons continued to use kicks to dazzle the Roosters, targetting Amos Roberts several times and pulling off some pinpoint plays as they completed a staggering 90% of their sets in the first half – something the Dragons have rarely looked even close to doing this year.
The Dragons made it back-to-back tries less than a minute later, this time a miscued Hornby kick floated into the arms of centre Josh Morris, with the zippy utility beating two defenders before drawing Perrett, to provide Jason Nightingale a clear run to the line.
Sowardâ€™s sideline conversion never looked like missing, handing the Dragons a surprise 12-0 lead in just the 8th minute of play.
After firing a few volleys across the Dragons bow, the Roosters were the next to score through a typically bullocking try to lock Anthony Tupou, with Craig Fitzgibbons simple conversion making it 12-6 after 21 minutes.
A Soward penalty goal for a Riley Brown high shot pushed the visitorâ€™s lead out to 14-6, with a 39th minute try to a determined Josh Morris enabling the Dragons to go to the sheds with a dominant 18-6 lead.
With both sides struggling to control possession in the muddy conditions, the majority of the second half turned into an old fashioned forward arm wrestle.
The game was as good as over when Simon Woolford slotted a pinpoint grubber through for Morris to score his second, with Sowardâ€™s conversion, and another penalty goal in the 72nd minute completing the four tries to one rout.
Both teams now have a weeks rest courtesy of their Round 8 bye.
St George-Illawarra Dragons 26
Tries: Josh Morris, Ben Hornby, Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris
Goals: Jamie Soward 5
Sydney Roosters 6
Tries: Anthony Tupou
Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon
At ANZ Stadium
Referee â€“ Sean Hampstead
Crowd â€“ 21,596