Sydney Roosters gained a 13-12 victory over St George Illawarra Dragons in the 84th minute of the Anzac Day game at Allianz Stadium today.
But the big news for English supporters was the medial ligament knee injury suffered by Dragons captain Gareth Widdop, which could keep him out of the Test match against Samoa on 6th May.
For one of the toughest games played in the NRL this season, the Roosters were forced into a late reshuffle after Mitchell Aubusson was ruled out through illness. Aidan Guerra shifted to the back row, with Sio Siua Taukeiaho starting at loose forward. Dylan Napa returned on the bench, with Connor Watson dropping out of the team.
The Dragons were unchanged from the team named last Tuesday.
Joel Thompson scored the only try of the first half, with Widdop converting for a 6-0 lead with no further scores in the first half.
The Roosters replied in the 50th minute when Blake Ferguson touched down a clever grubber by skipper Jake Friend but Michael Gordon missed a relatively easy conversion.
After 62 minutes Ferguson looked to have scored his second in the corner, but the final pass from Luke Keary was ruled forward.
The Roosters eventually hit the front in the 66th minute when Mitchel Pearce touched down under the posts, almost dropping the ball after sustained pressure. Gordon’s goal gave them a four-point lead, which was increased to six points on 75 minutes after a Dragons goal-line drop-out sailed into touch and Gordon kicked the penalty.
But with two minutes remaining Nene McDonald picked up a ricochet and beat four defenders to touch down in the corner. And, in the absence of Widdop, Josh Dugan kicked a superb touchline conversion to level the scores and take the game into golden point time.
The final act came from Roosters halfback Pearce, who landed the winning to spark great celebrations among the Roosters supporters among the 40,864 spectators.
Roosters: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Joseph Manu, 4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Mitchell Pearce, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Isaac Liu, 11 Boyd Cordner (c), 13 Aidan Guerra, 17 Sio Siua Taukeiaho; Interchange: 14 Zane Tetevano, 15 Paul Carter, 16 Kane Evans, 19 Dylan Napa.
Dragons: 1 Josh Dugan, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Josh McCrone, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Joel Thompson, 13 Jack De Belin; Interchange: 14 Tariq Sims, 15 Leeson Ah Mau, 16 Kurt Mann, 17 Hame Sele.
Reports of all the weekend’s NRL matches are featured in this week’s League Express