Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
Needing to bounce back strongly after a shock loss to Balmain last week, the defending premiers had to do it the hard way, coming from 10-0 down to put 18 unanswered points on their spirited opponents.
After a physical opening to the round 20 clash, North Sydney posted first points in the 12th minute when a sweeping movement to the right saw Bears winger Ryan Wilson crash over out wide. Five-eighth Reece Watson was unable to convert, leaving the home side with a 4-0 advantage.
The second-last placed Bears sent a rocket into the Roosters? camp seven minutes later, when Watson put the appropriately named fullback, Anthony Beare, through a gap to extend North Sydney?s buffer to 10.
The early onslaught stung the young Roosters into action, but it wasn?t without a touch of luck.
Feeding a scrum 10 metres out from their own line, North Sydney players were unaware the ball had squirted quickly from the back of the scrum untouched. But standout Roosters lock Grant Millington showed lightning reactions to scoop the ball up and put the visitors back in the hunt. Winger Casey Conway converted to reduce the Bears? lead to four.
But despite some quality field possession over the remaining 12 minutes of the opening stanza, silly mistakes cruelled the Roosters? chances of taking the lead, which the Bears held 10-6 at the break.
But it didn?t last long.
After a half time serve from coach Jim Dymock, the Roosters were quick to snatch back the ascendancy from their unheralded opponents.
Millington again continued a stellar 2005 season after a great angled run off a James Aubusson pass to put the Roosters ahead 12-10.
After watching their hard earned lead slip away, the young Bears fired up, as the match threatened to break out into a heated brawl.
But it was the Roosters who used their aggression in a positive way, when makeshift five-eighth Jeremy Gordon put up an Andrew Johns-like banana kick for Shaun Foley to pounce.
The try capped off a five-star performance from the young fullback, who produced a flawless display from the back to constantly put the visitors on the front foot coming away from their own line.
When Conway bagged his third straight conversion, the Roosters skipped out to an 18-10 lead, which they never relinquished.
But the tensions eventually spilled over with three minutes remaining, when James Shillington and Norths prop Blake McLean were both sin-binned after coming to blows.
While the win wasn?t pretty, it puts the defending premiers back in the hunt for a top four berth with five rounds remaining.
?It was an important win for us,? Dymock said afterwards.
?Quite often when a side has nothing to play for in terms of making the finals, they come out and try to ruin your season.
?We outlasted the storm early on and came away with a very handy two points.
?But there is still plenty for us to improve on.?
The side will need to quickly refocus ahead of next week?s bumper clash against competition favourites St George Illawarra ? which kicks off at 2.40pm next Friday at WIN Stadium.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 18 (Grant Millington 2, Shaun Foley tries; Casey Conway 3/3 goals) defeated NORTH SYDNEY BEARS 10 (Ryan Wilson, Anthony Beare tries; Reece Watson 1/2 goals) at North Sydney Oval; Friday, 22nd July, 2005; Referee: Robbie Bowen.