NRL: Roosters return to form to beat the Dragons

By James MacSmith

James Maloney has been challenged to lift his game. Photo / Getty Images
James Maloney has been challenged to lift his game. Photo / Getty Images

Coach Trent Robinson says his Sydney Roosters side is finally starting to resemble the outfit that won last year's NRL title after their comprehensive 34-14 Anzac Day victory over St George Illawarra.

The round eight win at Allianz Stadium before 38,784 fans came at a cost though with James Maloney (shoulder) and Michael Jennings (ankle) likely to miss the tricolours' next game against Wests Tigers after next weekend's representative fixtures.

The Roosters led 18-8 at halftime and 24-14 midway through the second half before late tries to Boyd Cordner and Shaun Kenny-Dowall sealed the win.

It was the Roosters' fourth win this year, their second in a row after an early season slump of three straight losses.

"That was our best this year," Robinson said.

"(It was) a combination of the last few weeks of the footy we were playing and the footy we were trying to play.

"That looked like us tonight.

"We didn't hit the ground running (this season) but we are building.

"Four from eight is probably not ideal, we are probably one win away from where we would have like to be.

"But I'm of proud of the reaction of the last few weeks to those three losses."

The Roosters jumped out to an early 12-0 lead after 18 minutes, after Aidan Guerra stepped his way over in the 10th minute and then Daniel Tupou scored from a Jennings break after the Tongan international winger miraculously kept the ball in the field of play on the 50m line.

The Dragons hit back through a barging Ben Creagh in 26th minute.

But an Anthony Minichiello try out wide, off a lovely Maloney long ball, restored the Roosters 12-point lead in the 36th minute.

The Roosters captain then air swung at a Gareth Widdop kick just before the break to allow Nathan Green to touch down for a 18-8 score at halftime.

Man of the match Jake Friend chased down his own grubber kick under the posts to score just after the resumption.

The Dragons again fought back and Gerard Beale crossed from a Widdop pass in the 64th minute to bring the score to 24-14.

But from there it was all Roosters as their dominant forward performance began to take its toll.

Cordner forced his way over the Dragons' line in the 70th minute from a Maloney pass, before Kenny-Dowall dragged three Dragons defenders with him to touch down in the shadows of fulltime.

"Speaking to the boys after the game we feel our combinations are getting better," Roosters skipper Minichiello said.

"We haven't been at our best over the last few weeks.

"We have worked hard at training and we are getting close to where we want to be.
Jennings went off in the 72nd minute closely followed by Maloney, but by then the game was over as a contest.

Dragons coach Steve Price said his side's effort was down on what he had come to expect this year.

"A lack of discipline really bogged us down," he said.

"There was a lack of ball control and it told."

- AAP

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