Dragons finals hopes dented by Roosters
A hat-trick of tries from Mitchell Pearce helped Sydney Roosters to their first win in six attempts, a 26-10 victory over a disappointing St George Illawarra on Friday night.by NRL
A hat-trick of tries from Mitchell Pearce helped Sydney Roosters to their first win in six attempts, a 26-10 victory over a disappointing St George Illawarra on Friday night.
The New South Wales half-back scored just before half-time and iced the result with two four-pointers in the last eight minutes at the Sydney Football Stadium.
However, the win did not come easily for the hosts, who conceded two second-half tries while winger Joseph Leilua was in the sin bin for a professional foul.
Leilua gave his side the lead midway through the opening stanza when he waltzed through the Dragons defence for his sixth try of the season and Pearce doubled the lead when he raced under the posts on the stroke of half-time.
Braith Anasta kicked his third goal four minutes after the interval to put the Tricolours 14-0 in front.
But as they have so many times this season, the Roosters shot themselves in the foot when Leilua dived on top of Chase Stanley to prevent a quick play-the ball, after the centre was chased down by Brad Takairangi, and was sin binned for 10 minutes.
The Dragons took full advantage, Matt Prior diving over from the resulting penalty, and Ben Creagh showed great handling skills to haul in a Nathan Fien kick and bundle over.
Roosters coach Brian Smith told Grandstand he thought his team defended well after the Dragons' had registered two quick tries.
"When it got back to 14-10 the cat was amongst the pigeons," Smith said.
"I thought the boys did a reasonably good job just in the next stage, just after they got to their 10 (points)."
Steve Price's men, who are the lowest scorers in the competition, were unable to add to the total when Leilua returned, with Brett Morris being denied two certain tries due to forward passes from Jason Nightingale and Nathan Green.
With the Roosters' fans in the crowd of 12,528 feeling the nerves, exciting young winger Roger Tuivasa-Shec showed why he is rated so highly by coach Smith when he ran the ball 40 metres from his own in-goal area and off-loaded to Pearce who cruised to the line.
Anasta added the extras before Pearce scored his third three minutes from time.
An animated Tuivasa-Shec told Grandstand he relied on pure instinct to set up Pearce's second try.
"It was just quick reactions ... I just looked up, just saw Brett (Morris) behind me.
"I just do what I've been doing, what I've been taught by my Dad and just whack off my left and just go.
"I just saw Pearcey in support ... off-load and he just made the magic."
St George Illawarra coach Steve Price, who dropped half-back Jamie Soward to reserve grade for the match, denied it was a sudden-death defeat for the Dragons.
"I wouldn't say it was sudden-death, it just makes it a little bit harder now," Price said.
"I felt like we had the momentum there when we were 14-10 and we put a kick in the in-goal line and they run a hundred (metres).
Price told Grandstand he would not make public any discussions between himself and Soward.
"That's between me and Jamie, I'm not going to elaborate," Price said.
"There's been enough speculation about Jamie and myself but the most important thing is what we talk about stays between us."
Roosters: 26 (M Pearce 3, J Leilua tries; B Anasta 4 goals)
Dragons: 10 (M Prior, B Creagh tries; B Hornby goal)
Source: ABC Sport
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