Hunt masterclass in Dragons’ Anzac NRL win

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    St George Illawarra are refusing to acknowledge themselves as NRL title contenders even after their 24-8 Anzac Day dismantling of the Sydney Roosters.

    After a Ben Hunt masterclass and the rub of the green with the bunker, the Dragons posted a four-tries-to-one win in front of a bumper crowd of 41,142 – a record for the fixture – at Allianz Stadium.

    After one-third of the competition, the Dragons are out in front as ladder leaders.

    But Dragons coach Paul McGregor urged caution, having been in a similar position over the past three years, only to fall away badly.

    Last year, they led the competition after seven rounds and missed the eight.

    Two years prior, they were first after seven rounds, finished eighth and were knocked out in the first week of the finals.

    “We were in the same position last year and, for their mental state, I think it’s good for the guys to go away and have four days off after a win,” McGregor said.

    “Because history has shown we have been in the same position before.

    “I know we have a different football team this year – we have a very good balance of a football team.”

    Tariq Sims was dominant again, pulling off a string of big hits on Cooper Cronk and coming up with a crucial try, while Tyson Frizell won man-of-the-match honours.

    Hunt came up with the line break to set up Nene MacDonald’s opening try before going over with a show-and-go in the shadows of halftime to make it 12-2.

    The video referees were again a major talking point after green-lighting a second MacDonald four-pointer in the 69th minute.

    After the Dragons put it through the hands, the ball appeared to come loose due to the attention of Cronk.

    However, bunker official Jared Maxwell ruled MacDonald still had a finger tip on the ball and there was insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field call.

    The Dragons were up 18-8 at the time and the four-pointer killed off any hope of a Roosters fightback.

    “I don’t think it was a try, simply,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.

    “But we’ve got to get some stuff right for ourselves. To be honest, I don’t care.”

    Latrell Mitchell’s four-pointer in the 51st minute was the only time the Roosters could crack the Dragons’ defence.

    At one point during the first half, the Roosters had six sets on the Dragons’ line but couldn’t break them open and had to settle for a penalty goal.

    “It’s more on coaches, I think. These guys are trying really hard in that area – I think you could see the sets were flowing quite well, even though the opportunities weren’t coming,” Robinson said of their attack.

    “We’re making them work hard on structure at the moment. We’re not giving them freedom with their eyes up footy, which we’ll get to.”

    © AAP 2018

    The New South Wales State of Origin team for the 2018 series remains a mystery, with new coach Brad Fittler facing plenty of selection headaches. So we want you to tell us - and all your mates - who should start for Blues in Game 1 with our team picker.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • April 26th 2018 @ 7:51am
      kk said | April 26th 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Easts did to SGI what I expected in reverse.

      Roarers got it right before the season start when they posted the fact that the Rooster pack
      needed rejuvenation. SGI showed Uncle Nic what good recruitment looks like.

    • April 26th 2018 @ 8:14am
      mushi said | April 26th 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      I’m not sure it was bad recruitment, I think it was a misinformed view of how good we already were.

      Last year we were a very lucky team to finish 2nd, there was this view that the ladder finish equated to having the second best roster and didn’t really take into account the luck involved with winning 17 games despite having a sub 100 points differential.

      I’d expected them to be better this year than what they are but not much better at this point, as I figured by the end of the year they’ll uncover a better forward rotation via trial and error of young/re-treads.

    • April 26th 2018 @ 10:01am
      SteveSyd said | April 26th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Whilst Tedesco is a good player, is the difference what was paid for him compared to keeping Michael Gordon worth it?
      Gordon also proved a terrific player with the roosters and keeping him and focussing on a couple of gun forwards instead of Tedesco is now obvious.
      I also suspect the Storm weren’t overly fussed letting Cronk go. He definitely looks past his best and despite not being up to the pressures of SOO, Mitchell Pearce is at his peak now and already a premiership winner there.
      Roosters will struggle all year against the genuine 4-5 contenders.
      Trent Robinson is no Craig Bellamy and a smart move to chase him for next year.

      • Roar Guru

        April 26th 2018 @ 10:31am
        Hoy said | April 26th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        Watching Tigers Vs Storm last year showed the difference in class between the “Amazing” Tedesco and the “old” Slater… Slater gave him a lesson in fullback play. Tedesco is a good individual. Tedesco is not the saviour, and he won’t be. His game doesn’t suit most teams… He is very much an individual player, and teams now are looking to their fullback to play the ball more.

        Looking at games I have seen of him this year, he gets the ball in space with promise for players outside him, but he refuses to do anything with it, and jilts and steps back inside to nothing… He isn’t pushing up the middle in support much either, but he still makes a solid break or two..

        Cronk is also frustrated with his team… you can see him trying to get them to do what he wants… Not sure it’s a good match.

      • April 26th 2018 @ 10:47pm
        JN said | April 26th 2018 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

        About Michael Gordon, the Roosters ey him go for family reasons, as he has build a house in the Gold Coast for his family to live in, so the roosters dude the right thing to let him go. Tedesco is definently improving after each game. I do th necessarily think Cronk is ‘past his best,’ the Roosters unlike last year are to structured in there’s attack. In the dragons game, they easily predicted the Roosters attack, because they keep shifting the ball through their playmakers and into the the wing. It’s going to still take some time for their attack to gel, but hopefully this game against the sea eagles kick starts some momentum in attack.

    • April 26th 2018 @ 2:05pm
      Paul said | April 26th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

      Robinson’s comments about Easts attack would be concerning, were I to be a Roosters fan. We’re almost a third of the way through the season but they’re still working on structure and not on heads-up footy. This should have been done and dusted a few rounds ago. It’s fine to say the sets might have been flowing but they were also ineffective if they did not result in tries. All of this seems to suggest Cronk and the other new guys are taking quite a while to fit into the team.

      The ironical thing is, the try Latrell Mitchell scored, was a result of heads up football. Maybe they might be better suited going down that path. In any event, they need to do something sooner rather than later if they’re going to match the pre-season hype.

      • April 26th 2018 @ 3:56pm
        Mushi said | April 26th 2018 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

        Why does a team adjust its time table to preseason hype?

      • April 26th 2018 @ 10:52pm
        JN said | April 26th 2018 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

        To be fair, Cronk was at World Cup for a substantial amount of the preseason, and Luke Keary had a broken jaw also, so I expected it to take a while longer for the Roosters spine to gel. I agree though, more heads up footy needed, too structured in attack

    • April 26th 2018 @ 10:11pm
      canetoad said | April 26th 2018 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

      The Roosters are becoming a cash turnstile

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