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The St George Illawarra Dragons Premier League sides serge toward September has hit a speed bump after going down to the Sydney Roosters 28-18 at WIN Stadium tonight.
Despite leading 12-6 midway through the first half, the Dragons were no match for the class of Roosters five eighth Jaime Soward and his brigade of players with a plethora of first grade experience. In fact, four Roosters players who were originally named in first grade were dropped to play in the Premier League fixture.
Soward crossed twice for the Roosters and had a hand in two other tries in a dominating performance.
For the Dragons, Daniel Holdsworth once again lead from the front. Chris Sheppard also showed increasing confidence with the football in hand. Special mention should also go to Bryan Norrie who turned metre eater for the red and whites causing the Roosters constant headaches.
The home side found themselves behind the eight ball early after Soward sprinted 70 metres to score his sides first points. Attacking 30 metres out from the visitors line, a probing Holdsworth grubber unfortunately found Soward on the fly, who, with a bit of fancy footwork, tore through the front line defences and showed a clean pair heels to outpace Tom Hewitt to the try line. Soward then backed up his great individual effort with a conversion from the touchline.
But this seasons Premier League side is made of sterner stuff and after 18 minutes the Dragons levelled the scores through Nick Youngquest. With a truckload of possession down the right end of the field, Youngquest was on the end of a crisp back line movement to touch down in the corner. Aaron Gorrell kicked the conversion attempt from the sideline and it was six all.
Just three minutes later, the Dragons hit the lead.
Now with all the momentum, the home side was playing some attractive lateral football. On the back of some exciting second phase play, a Holdsworth grubber found open space in the Roosters in goal area and it was Shane Marteene who swooped on the crumbs. Gorrell added the extras for a six point lead.
The contest remained tight with neither side conceding an inch. Unfortunately for the home side, the Roosters levelled the scores on the cusp of the break.
After McKonkie Tauasa made a 50 metre break downfield, the Roosters were camped on the Dragons line. After brilliantly repelling the visitors after three sets of six, the red and white wall finally cracked and Daniel Dumas touched down. Soward converted and both sides went to the sheds tied at 12 a piece.
Dumas was at it again for the Roosters just seven minutes into the second half. In a carbon copy play of his first try, Dumas was the recipient of another Grant Rovelli inside ball. The former Shark crashed over next to the sticks and the Roosters lead by four. The margin remained at four after Soward?s conversion attempt hit the upright.
After copping it from the growing crowd for missing a relatively simple conversion, Soward soon had his revenge after the five eighth swooped on another Dragons ill directed grubber to travel 70 metres to score for the second time. Although the chief playmaker missed his conversion, the visitors opened up an important eight point lead.
After mauling three sides in the top eight in the last 3 weeks, the Dragons have plenty of self belief and with 18 minutes to go Aaron Wheatley crossed to put his side back in it. Gorrell remained solid with the boot kicking his side to within two.
In what was an extremely physical encounter, both sides came to blows in a heated exchange with 15 on the clock. As a result, the Rooster received the penalty and Soward kicked the goal for 22-18 lead.
By this stage of the match, the five eighth couldn?t keep himself out of the game. With all the ball in the Roosters hands, Soward managed to conger up another try with ten to go. Attacking deep in the Dragons red zone, Soward threw dummies and stepped like Karmichael Hunt, then linked up with Michael Lett who managed to escape the clutches of red and white jumpers. The centre dived over and in the process drove the final nail into the Dragons coffin.
Soward rubbed in the salt when he piloted over his second penalty goal of the night, giving the final score of 28-18.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 28 ( J Soward 2, D Dumas 2, M Lett tries; J Soward 4 goals) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 18 ( N Youngquest, S Marteene, A Wheatley tries; A Gorrell 3 goals)
The St George Illawarra Jersey Flegg side has extended their unbeaten streak to 17 matches after demolishing the fourth place Rooster 41-0.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 41 ( G Ndaira 2, B Ryan 2, J Lewis 2, J Nightingale tries; L Te Maari 5 goals, J Keith goal; J Lewis field goal) d. SYDNEY ROOSTERS 0