The Sydney Roosters have slipped past a defiant St George-Illawarra side to keep their Top 4 hopes on track, defeating the Dragons 24-16 at WIN Stadium tonight.
Despite missing a host of top line players, the Roosters still managed to get a vital win on the road with Luke Keary having a stormer of a second half, scoring the winning try and having a hand in two more to prove the difference between the sides. He was supported by a monster performance by underrated prop Siosuia Taukeiaho who filled the shoes of Jared Warea-Hargraves and several other forwards, running for over 300 metres from his 24 hit-ups in a huge 80 minute performance.
The Dragons loss was further compounded by potentially a serious shoulder injury to firebrand backrower Tariq Sims who left the field in the second half and did not return. Despite the loss, the Dragons were in the fight until late with centre Zac Lomax scoring 2 tries in the first half in an effort to keep his side in the contest.
St George desperately needed a win in Wollongong and things got off to a rocky start, when backrower Tariq Sims dropped the ball on just the 4th tackle of the match. The back to back premiers of course made them pay when following a strong run from James Tedesco, centre Joey Manu crashed over in just the 2nd minute to get the Roosters on the board to lead 6-0.
St George again made an early unforced error, this time through Zac Lomax and again the Roosters took their opportunity, when Tedesco and rookie Lachlan Lam combined to put makeshift centre Mitch Aubusson over for a popular try in his 300th match for the club. Taukeiaho missed the conversion and the Roosters led 10-0 in as many minutes.
The Dragons needed to respond and they did so through centre Lomax who collected the ball out wide on the last and then in a terrific solo effort, he sold a dummy and slipped between the Roosters edge defence to reach out to score in the corner. A limping Lomax then recovered to just miss the conversion from the sideline and the score was 10-4 to the visitors.
With the halftime break approaching, Lomax and skipper Cameron McInnes then sparked the Dragons as they made some decisive runs through the Roosters defence to set up for a strong finish to the set. Super sub Tristian Sailor then crafted a well weighted kick behind the line which Roosters winger Ryan Hall knocked back. The ball then sat up for Zac Lomax who just beat Matt Dufty to ground the ball for his second try of the match. Lomax then converted to even the scores at 10 all at halftime.
The Roosters again started well in the second half, when Luke Keary took on the line before combining with Aubusson to put Ryan Hall down the left- hand side. Hall then offloaded back inside, however the pass missed a flying James Tedesco. Keary then picked up the ball and found Sitili Tupouniua who scored besides the posts.
As the Dragons looked to be fighting their way back, Luke Keary then put up a bomb and the Dragons let it bounce. James Tedesco then raced through to collect the ball and offload to Aubusson who found Manu to score his second try. Interchange utility Drew Hutchinson missed the conversion and the Tricolours led 20-10 with 10 minutes remaining.
Keary then sealed the match when Dragons rookie Sailor charged out of the line and Keary took advantage, racing through a yawning gap to clinch a vital win for the Roosters Top 4 aspirations.
Matt Dufty scored a late consolation try on the bell for the Dragons, however it was too little, too late for Paul McGregor's men who watch their season slip further away from the Top 8.
The Roosters now face the Melbourne Storm next Thursday night in an absolute blockbuster to kickoff Round 14 next week.
The Dragons now head to Bankwest Stadium where they face the Parramatta Eels.