St George Illawarra Dragons 22 v Sydney Roosters 12
St George Illawarra has proven they are more than just a pretty football side with a solid 22-12 victory over the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium today.
In the now traditional ANZAC Day clash between the two popular Sydney heavyweights, the Dragons came out firing with successive tries to winger Wes Naiqama in the space of just five minutes.
The Roosters gradually clawed their way back into the contest, and managed to go into halftime just two points down at 14-12 in the Dragons? favour.
But the defining moment of the match came with a controversial call, one of many today, against the Roosters for obstruction. The try would have leveled the scores with the possibility of the Roosters taking an 18-16 lead. Instead, the Dragons raced down the other end of the field with a try to Matt Bickerstaff, and confirmed the 22-12 result with the successful conversion to Mathew Head.
Both sides grinded out the performance in the second half, limiting their mistakes and playing a more conservative style ? the Dragons, though, were the more patient of the sides and this showed in the result.
The Roosters can take heart from this performance, especially with the loss of Anthony Minichiello before the match. While they were still lacking cohesion in attack, their forwards were much better and the Roosters showed they can still compete with the bigger packs in the competition. Braith Anasta was benched late in the match, sparking concerns of further damage to his groin.
The Dragons move well and truly into the top eight, but this win has come at a cost. Jason Ryles has broken his hand again, and Wes Naiqama has suspected ligament damage to his ankle. Shaun Timmins also sustained a head injury but that shouldn?t provide too many problems for him. Naiqama was also placed on report for a high tackle at the 50th minute.
No apparent concerns for the Roosters but prop David Shillington could be in some trouble with the match review committee after a high tackle late in the match. The Roosters will remain outside the eight and it doesn?t get any easier next week, they travel to Townsville to play the Cowboys on Saturday night ? leaving just three days preparation for such a crucial contest.
Meanwhile, the Dragons travel to Melbourne to play the Storm on Saturday night, leaving limited preparation for such a critical match.
St George Illawarra Dragons: 22
Tries: Mark Gasnier, Wes Naiqama(2), Matthew Bickerstaff
Goals: Mathew Head 3/5
Sydney Roosters: 12
Tries: Amos Roberts, David Shillington
Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon 2/2
Venue: Aussie Stadium
Referee: Steven Clark
Half time: Dragons 14-12
Pre Match: A cool and overcast ANZAC Day greets Sydney as the traditional Dragons vs Roosters battle continues. These matches are evenly split, with two wins apiece since the inception of the tradition back in 2002. The Roosters have scored 79 points in these matches compared with the Dragons' 78.
A notable omission for the Roosters; Anthony Minichiello ruled out with a hamstring problem - Sam Perrett comes in for Minichiello.
For the Dragons, Dean Young has been ruled out with Aaron Gorrell taking his place at hooker.
0 min: NEWS KICKOFF! The ANZAC Day showdown begins.
3 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Matthew Head produces a magnificent chip-kick in behind the Roosters' line for Wes Naiqama to grasp and plant over the line. Head began the Dragons' attacking raid with a chip over the top inside his own half, which was fielded by Mark Gasnier.
9 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Naiqama fields yet another kick to score, this time a grubber from captain Trent Barrett. The Dragons look right on the money for this match and with the Roosters' poor form leading into this one, it could be a long afternoon for the red, white and blue. The potency and stability in attack from the likes of Barrett and Head has been pleasing for the Dragons.
13 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
David Shillington scores a controversial try under the posts as the Roosters hit back. He appeared to drop the ball over the line but the try was still awarded by video referee Bill Harrigan.
20 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Mark Gasnier juggles a Head bomb to cross out wide. The decision was referred to Bill Harrigan again who awarded benefit of the doubt for the second time today.
24 min: NEWS Shaun Timmins placed a hit on Braith Anasta which could come under scrutiny with the match review committee although there didn't look to be too much in it. Brett Finch is disallowed a try due to an earlier knock-on to Ashley Harrison. Still 14-6 the Dragons lead.
29 min: TRY Sydney Roosters
Brilliant switch of play from Roosters five eighth Braith Anasta, slotting a ball onto the chest of Amos Roberts who scores the try under the sticks. A 12 point turnaround as Barrett almost scored down the other end, only for a brilliant try-saving tackle from Roosters hooker Craig Wing.
34 min: NEWS The penalty count is now mounting against St George Illawarra and their ill-discipline is allowing the Roosters back into this game. Still 14-12 in favour of the Dragons.
39 min: NEWS Disallowed try to the Dragons as Wes Naiqama is unable to control another Barrett grubber kick in behind the line. A massive let-off for the Roosters just on halftime.
Halftime: min: NEWS Halftime on ANZAC Day and the Dragons hold a 14-12 lead over the Roosters. The Dragons looked as though they were primed to dominate this match but the Roosters have managed to hang-in well. Rain is belting down at Aussie Stadium and this one looks like it's going down to the wire.
40 min: NEWS Second half underway at Aussie Stadium
41 min: NEWS Jason Ryles has broken his hand again and won't be back for this afternoon's match.
50 min: NEWS Wes Naiqama on report for a high taclke on Sam Perrett. Still 14-12 and this game is firing up.
55 min: NEWS Shaun Timmins down injured close to the Roosters' line. The Dragons are losing players thick and fast here. Still 14-12 the Dragons leading.
57 min: NEWS NO TRY - Mark Gasnier has been ruled to have knocked the ball forward off a Trent Barrett bomb, disallowing the eventual try to winger Colin Best. Penalty given to the Dragons as Barrett has been taken out by Ashley Harrison. Attempt at goal to come.
58 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Head nails the two points and the Dragons lead by four.
62 min: NEWS Ben Hornby makes an elementary error in trying to field a Roosters kick. Scrum to the Roosters 10 metres out.
65 min: NEWS Roosters disallowed a try because of an obstruction play. That could be a turning point. Still 16-12.
68 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Matt Bickerstaff goes over for what might be the match-sealing try. The earlier obstruction call on the Roosters from Steven Clark will definitely come under scrutiny post-match.
70 min: NEWS Wes Naiqama has an ankle injury, adding to the Dragons' injury woes today with earlier injuries to Ryles ans Timmins.
72 min: NEWS Another decision referred upstairs and another disallowed try. This time Matt Cooper was deemed to have propelled the ball forward off another bomb from Trent Barrett, who grounded the ball in the in-goal - but to no avail.
74 min: NEWS The Dragons will escape with the points now, leading 22-12 and in control.
Fulltime: The Dragons have won this afternoon's traditional ANZAC Day battle by 22 points to 12 over the Roosters.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Mathew Head (Dragons)
2 - Luke Bailey (Dragons)
1 - Craig Wing (Roosters)
Roosters in spiteful ANZAC Day encounter