Dragons 32 def. Roosters 8
The Moment: Dean Young’s 62nd-minute, benefit-of-the-doubt try skipped the Dragons clear to an unsurmountable 24-8 lead – and we agree it was the moment the premiership was won for the Dragons and emphatically ‘gone’ for the Roosters.
But NRL.com’s turning point in the decider came 17 minutes prior, when Red V fullback Darius Boyd chimed in to mesmerise and bamboozle the Roosters’ outside backs in setting up a crucial try for winger Jason Nightingale.
Trailing 8-6 at halftime, the Dragons needed to be first to score in the second section and somewhat surprisingly they went to their right-side attack, which has been 50 per cent less potent than their left all season.
Interchange hooker Nathan Fien initiated the play at dummy-half, 20 metres out from the Roosters’ line and to the left of the goal posts. He darted left, then changed course and passed to skipper Ben Hornby. With players in motion fans sensed a set play coming. Hornby floated the ball behind decoy runner Beau Scott, picking up Boyd just inside the 20.
Here’s where Boyd laid the foundation for his Churchill Medal: seemingly covered by the matched-up Roosters defence, Boyd slow-motion feigned to pass, but delayed the offload just long enough to draw in tri-colours winger BJ Leilua off his corner.
The rookie expected Mark Gasnier to be the recipient but instead Boyd wafted the ball across the face of his centre and found Nightingale, who sidestepped a desperate lunge from Kane Linnett and grounded as Roosters skipper Braith Anasta arrived late on the scene.
The Roosters had all the numbers to thwart this attack, but a poor defensive read – prompted by a sublime piece of deception from Boyd – cost them dearly.
When Jamie Soward nailed the conversion from the sideline for a 12-8 score line the Dragons clearly had all the momentum, while the Roosters’ players’ shoulders clearly slumped.