The St George Illawarra Dragons defeated the Sydney Roosters 14-12 at the SCG on Monday afternoon.
The fixture is a traditional clash between the two clubs, started in 2002 by both clubs who wanted to create an ANZAC Day tradition in the rugby league calendar.
The Dragons came into the game off a win last week against the Newcastle Knights, their first since their round 1 win over the New Zealand Warriors.
They hadn’t won the ANZAC Day clash since 2018 and with 8 players participating in their first ANZAC Day game, the Dragons showed up for the occasion.
The Roosters had a close game last week, with an 8 point win over the New Zealand Warriors.
There were changes made to today’s line up due to a bug that went through some of the Bondi squad, which saw enforcers Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley moved to the bench prior to kick off.
They were seen pacing on the sideline in anticipation of running on to make an impact.
The game started in a physical manner from both sides, with Dragon Zac Lomax put on report for what was initially thought to be a head slam on James Tedesco, but on further review was deemed a body slam into the ground.
In the 12th minute, Lomax added the extras to a Francis Molo try after he ran through the defence of Sitili Tupouniua and Lindsay Collins.
The Dragons were on the board and the Roosters were still on the back foot.
Rooster Joseph Manu had an injury scare after a collision with prop Josh McGuire left him on the ground clutching at his upper shin and was seen limping after the trainer assessed him, but this didn’t slow him down, as he clocked up 158 metres from 13 runs.
The Roosters couldn’t seem to get over the line, with Tedesco being held up by 4 Dragons players, Sam Verrills getting over the line but struggling to wrestle the ball to the ground, and a try denied for Luke Keary due to an obstruction.
Both teams made errors, through sloppy ball handling or misjudging kicks. They were simple, but costly errors – and no one was safe from making one or two.
Jaydn Su’A found himself extending the lead for the Red V in the 25th minute, scooping up the ball after Roosters centre Paul Momirovski leapt up but failed to maintain the ball.
Lomax had yet another successful conversion, and the Dragons had themselves a comfortable lead.
Daniel Tupou had a hard game and will have to wait another week to take over Shaun Kenny-Dowall as outright second highest try scorer in Roosters history.
He was a Dragons magnet, as soon as he had the ball, they were all over him. They repeatedly rushed up to cause panic and force errors, and it was working.
Joseph Suaalii made his presence known when he put a big tackle on Jack Bird, so big that Bird left the field with an elbow compliant and didn’t return to the field.
Bird will have scans to determine the extent of the injury.
Lomax added 2 more points to the board when the Dragons were awarded a penalty for a player tackled off the ball, leaving the Roosters heading into the sheds at halftime trailing 14-0.
The Dragons dominated in the first half, both in attack and defence.
The Roosters were far from their best and what everyone knows they are capable of.
Not long into the second half, Su’A was taken from the field with a nasty leg injury following a tackle by JWH.
While it wasn’t a dangerous tackle, they both landed awkwardly on top of each other.
Su’A struggled to his feet and appeared to have difficulty with putting weight on the leg, and was assisted from the field by training staff. He failed to return to the field.
In the 45th minute, Tupouniua found himself over the line after a great line break from Tedesco, Walker added the extras and the Roosters were finally on the board.
Daniel Tupou was put on report for head high/coat hanger style contact on the face of Mikaele Ravalawa.
Many questioned if Tupou should have been sent to the sin bin, with NRL boss Andrew Abdo making a comment on the incident.
“To me it was a sin bin, direct contact to the head, I was very surprised it wasn’t a sin bin!,” Abdo said.
The final 15 minutes of the game saw the Dragons starting to show signs of fatigue but refusing to give up, while the Roosters were still trying to string something together and get some points.
In the 69th minute, Manu went over off a flick pass from Suaalii, with Walker converting for an edge-of-your-seat final few minutes and the Dragons only 2 points in front.
The Roosters couldn’t capitalise in the final moments, with some costly errors all but ending their chances of a comeback victory.
The Dragons held on to take the 2 points and to get back to back wins for the first time since round 16 in 2021.
The Ashton Collier Spirit of ANZAC medal was awarded to Ben Hunt in front of a crowd of 35, 273.
Next week, the Roosters play the Bulldogs on Saturday at Accor Stadium, while the Dragons play at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon against Wests Tigers.
LEST WE FORGET
St GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS: 14 TRIES: F. Molo, J. Su’A GOALS: Z. Lomax 2/2 PENALTY GOALS: Z. Lomax 1/1
SYDNEY ROOSTERS: 12 TRIES: S. Tupouniua, J. Manu GOALS: S. Walker 2/2
CASUALTY WARD: J. Bird (elbow), J. Su’A (leg)
IN THE BAD BOOKS: D. Tupou, Z. Lomax
LOZ’S STAND OUT PLAYERS: M. Suli (STI), Jaydn Su’A (STI), B. Hunt (STI), S. Walker (SYD), S. Tupouniua (SYD), J. Suaalii (SYD)