The St George Dragons Junior Representative teams completed their final pre-season trials against the Sydney Roosters at WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Saturday.
Both the Dragons Harold Matthews (U16) and SG Ball (U18) teams were in action but suffered losses to the visiting team.
It looked to be smooth sailing for the Dragons when the Harold Matthews took to the field, scoring two tries within the first five minutes and earning a repeat set on the Roosters’ line soon after.
After making an error close to the Roosters’ line, however, St George failed to convert two opportunities in the ten minutes to follow – finding the crossbar with an attacking kick and getting dragged into touch centimetres before the try line.
In the 20th minute it was the Roosters to score their first points, the second-rower making a break and drawing the last line of Dragons’ defence to send his own fullback over in a 60-metre effort.
With two complete sets on the St George line, the Roosters went back-to-back in their first attack on the left-hand side to level scores before the halftime break.
Having dropped the kickoff at the beginning of the second half, the Dragons failed to hold the Roosters out once again, falling behind for the first time in the match.
Another two chances gone begging through St George errors meant they were unable to draw level and when the Roosters crossed again with 15 minutes remaining, it would take a complete reversal of momentum to bring a Dragons win.
Finally, a break from the Roosters in the final ten minutes put the score just out of reach for the home side, the Dragons going down five tries to two.
While remaining in the game longer than their junior counterparts, the Dragons SG Ball failed complete a second half comeback and went down by a single try.
Just four minutes in the Roosters scored from the high ball and after two consecutive penalties on the Dragons line they crossed for a second in the same spot.
The Dragons got on the board in the 15th minutes, but a strong run and three fends from the Roosters’ winger saw the visitors return to a two-try lead.
The same play brought the Roosters’ right winger his second, but he was unable to defend a Dragons centre-winger combination soon after; St George crossing in the final minute of the first half for a four-tries-to-two scoreline at the break.
Despite a scoreless opening twenty minutes of the second half, the Dragons looked to be building pressure through forced Roosters dropouts and fewer errors – capitalising through a big second-rower charge and scoring with 15 minutes left in the match.
The St George juniors drew level with 9 minutes to go, but it was short-lived; a Roosters set play bringing points 4 minutes later.
With just two minutes left the Roosters put the score out of reach for the Dragons, but the scoring wasn’t over yet; as the siren sounded the Dragons scored the most entertaining of consolation tries which featured three kicks, a 40-metre line break to each team, a Dragons flick pass, a last-minute sidestep and which passed through twelve sets of hands to put the Dragons over at fulltime.
The final score was six tries to five and the Dragons SG Ball side will take heart from almost forging a comeback in what was a thrilling game – while the Under 16s will look to build and maintain early momentum in the first round of the regular season.
The St George Dragons will commence the season against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Remondis Stadium, Cronulla on Saturday, February 15.