Roosters survive late Bulldogs charge
The Roosters have staved off a furious second-half comeback to hang on for a 24-18 win over the Bulldogs in an absorbing contest at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Trent Robinson's men looked set to rack up a cricket score after an utterly one-sided first half saw them open up a commanding 14-point break, but their lethal left edge went missing in the second stanza as Canterbury's right side dictated terms after the break.
Tries to Kerrod Holland and Matt Frawley saw the Bulldogs close to within two points only for Blues hopeful Mitchell Pearce to ice the game with a try four minutes from full-time.
He might have given up hope of a return to the State of Origin arena but Bulldogs centre Josh Morris showed he is still a force at NRL level as he took advantage of a poor read from Joseph Manu to open the scoring after six minutes.
It didn't take long for the Roosters to respond with Daniel Tupou crossing for his third try of the season against the Bulldogs after some terrific work back on the inside by Latrell Mitchell and Michael Gordon.
Having struck gold with their first attacking raid, the Roosters went straight back to their lethal left edge in the next set with Tupou popping a subline offload to Mitchell who delivered a pass off the ground back inside that was fumbled straight into the arms of Jake Friend who raced around to score his second try in as many weeks.
It looked as though the visitors had made it three tries from as many sets when Keary grounded a Tupou infield grubber, but the effort was disallowed when the Bunker spotted a foot on the sideline, much to the Bulldogs' relief.
Nothing was going right for the home side – not even their highly-successful short line dropout ploy – with Moses Mbye's effort failing to go the required 10 metres allowing Gordon to slot another two points from in front.
The left-edge carve up showed no signs of easing up as Mitchell Pearce drew in the defence and then put it on the toe to set up Latrell Mitchell for his second try in as many games back from a stint in reserve grade.
Whatever Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said at half-time worked as the blue and whites narrowed the gap when Holland crashed over in the right corner 11 minutes into the second half courtesy of an inventive pass from Will Hopoate.
The first-half woes were quickly forgotten when Brenko Lee burst into the backfield, drew the fullback and then dished a pass to send five-eighth Matt Frawley over to cut the margin to just two points just as Mitchell was being helped from the field with what appeared to be a rib injury.
Canterbury huffed and puffed for the final 20 minutes but they couldn't land the telling blow as Pearce finally put the result to bed with a late try to move the Roosters level with three other teams on 16 competition points.
Roosters 24 (Daniel Tupou, Jake Friend, Latrell Mitchell, Mitchell Pearce tries; Michael Gordon 4 goals) def. Bulldogs 18 (Josh Morris, Kerrod Holland, Matt Frawley tries; Kerrod Holland 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: 20-6. Crowd: 15,090.