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The Dragons won a thrilling Anzac Day clash 28-24 in Round 8 last year, before the Roosters squared the ledger for the 2012 season with a convincing 26-10 victory at WIN Stadium in Round 22.
In the Anzac clash, the tri-colours looked home for all money when they led by eight points with just four minutes left on the clock before St George Illawarra unleashed a devastating finish that saw Matt Prior and Ben Creagh cross to steal the competition points.
The Dragons’ cause looked problematic when they trudged back to halfway following a Braith Anasta penalty goal in the 75th minute trailing 24-16. But then winger Jason Nightingale stole back the Steeden from a short-kick restart which triggered Prior’s four-pointer, before Ben Creagh crashed over from short range to score his second try of the afternoon inside the final minute.
The Roosters led 12-10 at halftime but extended their lead to 18-10 on the hour following a brilliant try to Mitchell Pearce and a conversion from Anasta.
The turning point came midway through the first stanza with the score tied at 6-all; the Roosters peppered the Dragons’ try line for five consecutive sets of six but could not make any impression, before Red V centre Matt Cooper scored a try against the run of play. The four-pointer snatched the Dragons an unlikely 10-6 lead in the 32nd minute before a try to Anthony Minichiello and conversion edged the home side ahead at oranges.
Statistically there wasn’t a struck match between the teams, with the Dragons achieving a 52 per cent share of possession and completing just two more sets (28-26). The Roosters pegged back the Dragons with a deep kicking game (626 metres to 410 metres) while the Dragons missed 33 tackles to the Roosters’ 32.
However the Dragons dominated line-breaks 7-2 – with five-eighth Jamie Soward making a game-high two busts. The Roosters made 15 offloads to the Dragons’ 13.
Arguably best on ground was Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce (two try assists and a try), while teammate Anthony Minichiello made a game-high 17 runs, scored a try and made six tackle-breaks.
Playing centre for the Dragons Matt Prior scored a try, made 107 metres, four offloads and a line-break, while Soward chimed in with five tackle busts.