NYC Dragons outlast plucky Roosters

By Martin Gabor

The NYC Dragons have bounced back from last week's heavy defeat to consolidate their spot in the top four with a deserved 35-26 win over the Roosters in the Holden Cup. 

The Dragons couldn't have asked for a better start as they scored first in the opening minute when Roosters fullback Marlon Ritchie allowed a clearing kick to bounce, inviting prop Matt Sheppard to charge through and claim the loose ball to score.

It didn't take long for the hosts to respond with winger Zane Blake on the end of a clinical right-to-left shift to crash over in the corner, with Sean O'Sullivan's sideline conversion tying things up after seven minutes. 

The Roosters looked set to make it back-to-back four-pointers a couple of sets later but were left stunned when Tristan Sailor intercepted a Victor Radley pass and ran 85 metres to give the Red V the lead.

An error from the resultant kick-off put the Roosters straight back on the attack and they made the most of their good fortune with Jesse Marschke spinning over from dummy-half to make it 12-all. 

Things went to script 10 minutes later when the Dragons retook the lead courtesy of a Jason Gillard four-pointer in the left corner only for the Tricolours to answer in kind with a try to Kenneth Koro out wide. 

The stunning first-half tit-for-tat continued six minutes before the break when Joe Lovodua burst into the backfield and delivered a brilliant offload to send Reece Robson over before Jackson Willis nailed a field goal as the siren blared in the background to give his side a 23-16 lead. 

The Roosters landed the all-important first strike after the break with Marschke playing short to set up Jarred Anderson to get his side within three points.

The Dragons were clearly unperturbed by the early setback and they gained some breathing space when Jayden Morgan raced through to ground a grubber before Reuben Garrick rose highest to reel in a bomb to open up a 15-point buffer.

Koro grabbed his second of the afternoon to give his side a sniff with six minutes to play, but it proved to be mere consolation as the Dragons held on for the win. 

Dragons 35 (Matt Sheppard, Tristan Sailor, Jason Gillard, Reece Robson, Jayden Morgan, Reuben Garrick tries; Zac Lomax 5 goals; Jackson Willis field goal) defeated Roosters 26 (Kenneth Koro 2, Zane Blake, Jesse Marschke, Jarred Anderson tries; Sean O' Sullivan 3 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 23-16

This article first appeared on NRL.com