The St George Illawarra Dragons were 14-12 winners over the Sydney Roosters in their traditional ANZAC Day fixture at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Saturday.
The Red-and-Whites notched two tries in the win courtesy of Peter Mata’utia and Mitch Rein to make captain Ben Creagh’s 250th first-fixture for the Club a memorable one.
Head Coach Paul McGregor made only the one change in personnel to the line-up announced midweek with winger Jason Nightingale returning to the fold after overcoming a foot injury.
The New Zealand international replaced fellow winger Eto Nabuli who was rested with a minor knee injury.
Dragons trio George Rose, Drew Hutchison and Yaw Kiti Glymin all additionally dropped from the extended interchange bench.
The Dragons entered the traditional encounter on the back of five consecutive wins but faced a home team in search of their first win in four attempts.
Both outfits easily matched the other in the initial stages of the encounter but this changed when the visitors seized a deserved lead through winger Peter Mata’utia in the 20th minute.
The Red-and-Whites had had two disallowed tries in their previous ventures at the opposition’s try line leading up the four-pointer but the Samoa international raised no questions with his execution of five-eighth Gareth Widdop’s neat grubber out to the left.
From there the visitors pounced on the newfound momentum and doubled their lead four minutes later through the neat dummy work of hooker Mitch Rein.
Widdop soon converted to make it 10-0.
Both teams were forced off the field for a half-hour interval as a result of heavy rain soddening the field but returned with the same intensity and vigour when play recommenced.
The Roosters were the quickest to score prior to the half-time interval when halfback Mitchell Pearce’s grubber bypassed Josh Dugan into the hands of centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
Roosters five-eighth James Maloney converted to make it 10-6.
The Dragons were the beneficiaries of two awarded penalties as a result of the home side’s poor on field discipline just after the hour mark.
Roosters prop Dylan Napa was initially placed on report for an awkward high shot on centre Euan Aitken before lock Sio Siua Taukeiaho followed suit minutes later on hooker Mitch Rein.
Widdop made no mistakes with both his conversion attempts.
An error in defensive judgement gifted by the visitors gifted Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the space he needed to score a consolatory try in the 71st minute.
Maloney’s conversion narrowed the deficit to 14-12.
St George Illawarra Dragons 14. Tries: Mata’utia, Rein. Goals: Widdop (1/2). Penalty Goals: Widdop (1/1).
Sydney Roosters 12. Tries: Kenny-Dowall, Tuivasa-Sheck. Goals: Maloney (2/2).