A blistering seven-try second half has carried the Roosters to a 54-26 win over the Dragons in a free-flowing contest at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With Joey Manu enjoying a day out in the No.6 jersey and James Tedesco doing what James Tedesco does, the Roosters turned a 14-12 half-time deficit into their eighth win of the season, breaking a four-game losing streak in the process.
The Roosters were first to hit the scoreboard in the 14th minute when Manu showcased his speed and skill, busting the defensive line and delivering a superb flick pass for Victor Radley to race away and touch down under the posts.
Manu grabbed a try of his own in the 20th minute when he burrowed over from dummy half and the Roosters were out to a 12-0 lead.
A mistake by Roosters centre Billy Smith handed the Dragons field position and skipper Ben Hunt dragged his team back into the game with a try from close range in the 26th minute.
Hunt heroics gets the Dragons on the board
Hunt then produced a monster 40-20 kick in the next set to put the Dragons on the attack and Zac Lomax put some sweet footwork on Smith to make it two tries in three minutes for Anthony Griffin's men.
A penalty against the Roosters for breaking early from a scrum gave Lomax a shot from right in front and he converted for 14-12.
It took the Roosters just three minutes to grab the lead back after the break when a weaving run by Paul Momirovski created space for Connor Watson, who sliced the Dragons open for his second try of the season.
Dragon Aaron Woods was sin binned in the 47th minute for obstruction on Sam Walker and the young halfback slotted the penalty goal for 20-14.
Watson puts the Chooks in the lead
Just three minutes later and the Dragons hit back when Cody Ramsey's split the defence with dazzling footwork before sending a perfectly timed pass to winger Mat Feagai who crossed out wide. Lomax's conversion made it 20-20.
Another Manu special out of dummy half put the Roosters back in front as the teams continued to trade tries before Sam Walker burst through a Hunt tackle to score near the posts and the Tricolours skipped out to 32-20.
Skipper Tedesco then got in on the action when he took an inside pass from Angus Crichton and ran 30 metres to bring up the Roosters' sixth try.
With 19 minutes to play the Roosters suffered another injury blow when Sitili Tupouniua twisted awkwardly while chasing a kick and hobbled off with a knee problem.
Crichton had a chance to extend the Roosters' lead further in the 63rd minute when Ramsey fumbled a kick in the in-goal but the Blues Origin rep was unable to ground the ball.
Dancing Ramsey sets up Feagai
Ramsey made amends a minute later when he intercepted a poor offload by Matt Lodge and sprinted 90 metres to grab his second try as the Dragons got back within 12 points.
The Roosters then put the game out of reach in the 68th minute when Joseph Suaalii soared through the air to pull down a Walker bomb and cross for the 11th try of his short career.
Manu again showed his class in the 70th minute when he stopped and propped before exploding through the line and putting in a kick for Momirovski to score.
Flying Suaalii ices it for Roosters
- Roosters prop Siosiua Taekeiaho left the field in the 12th minute for a HIA which he failed. Reports suggested he may have suffered a fractured eye socket.
- Victor Radley's try was the 13th of his career in his 90th game. The No.13 was huge in the opening half with 11 runs for 112 metres and 21 tackles and went on to finish the day with a game high 213 metres.
- Roosters centre Billy Smith left the field with a knee injury after attempting a tackle on Zac Lomax in the 29th minute.
- Sam Verrills got through a mountain of work in defence for the Roosters with 41 tackles.
- The Dragons completed 22 of 24 sets in the opening half at 92 per cent.
Match: Roosters v Dragons
Round 18 -
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
- The Dragons went down to 12 men in the 47th minute when bench forward Aaron Woods was sin binned for obstructing Sam Walker on a kick chase.
- Former Warrior Matt Lodge took the field in the 51st minute for his first action as a Rooster. He played the last 30 minutes and finished with 92 metres from 12 runs.
- Roosters coach Trent Robinson brought up 250 games at the helm.
- Joey Manu ran for 194 metres for the Roosters and had 15 tackle breaks.
- Cody Ramsey ran for 187 metres and had a try assist and a line break for the Dragons.
- The Roosters have won eight of their past nine games against the Dragons.
- The last time the Roosters scored 50 points was round 16, 2020 against the Broncos at the SCG. [Won 58-12].
Manu powers his way over
Plays of the Game
Dragons skipper Ben Hunt grabbed his team's first try in the 26th minute with a trademark effort from close range and followed that up two metres later with a 40-20 kick every bit as impressive as the one he launched for the Maroons in Origin III. Making contact with the ball from inside his own 30m line, Hunt sent the Steeden 57 metres to bring up his fourth 40-20 of the season. The Red V's inspiratonal leader then put the icing on the cake by putting Zac Lomax in for a try and the Dragons had gone from 12 points down to level in the space of three minutes.
What They Said
"For the most part we were really dominant. I really liked the freedom that we played with. It's been a while since we scored 50 points and opened up like that. We had lots of options, guys playing long periods with the injuries and ending up with no one on the bench. Guys just spending time on the field was good. It looks like we've lost two guys [Smith and Tupouniua] to quite serious knee injuries and you feel for them but we've got a game next week and you have to move on but you feel sorry for your mate so we'll support them on the road to recovery. You have to suck it up pretty quickly and move on to next week." - Roosters coach Trent Robinson
Roosters: Round 18
"It's an enormous effort from him [Ben Hunt] to play. The same with Tedesco today. That's why they're Origin players. They both backed up and go hard at the game for 80 minutes. I can't wrap Ben enough. He's one of the best players in the game and one of the toughest players in the game, we just needed to play better for him today." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin
Dragons: Round 18
The Roosters travel to Newcastle to take on the Knights, seeking revenge for a loss way back in round one. They expect to have Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (hamstring) and Lindsay Collins (head knock) back on deck.
The Dragons are at home to Manly at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Friday and then host the Cowboys at the same venue in Round 20. Tariq Sims will be back on deck to face the Sea Eagles after his suspension.