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Never-say-die Dragons pull off dramatic win on day for heroes

Date

Glenn Jackson

St George Illawarra 28 Roosters 24

The Dragons celebrate after Ben Creagh scored the winning try with 45 seconds remaining.

The Dragons celebrate after Ben Creagh scored the winning try with 45 seconds remaining. Photo: Getty Images

A MATCH to remember, an occasion to savour, and a fitting captain's knock. If you could have written a script for yesterday's Anzac Day thriller (the St George Illawarra victory version at least), it would have been fairly close to the dramatic events at Allianz Stadium.

MATCH STATS

''It was a classic game of footy on Anzac Day,'' Dragons coach Steve Price said. ''It typifies what the Anzac spirit's all about, not giving up for your mate. It's a credit to the guys in the dressing room.

Tough contest ... Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters fends off Matt Cooper of the Dragons.

Tough contest ... Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters fends off Matt Cooper of the Dragons. Photo: Getty Images

''The most pleasing thing was that they walked off that field and they gave it their all. It's a memory our captain Ben Hornby can live with for the rest of his life.''

Hornby, who played his record-breaking 257th match, was in ''shock'' at the turn of events. ''We just dug in there and dug in there and kept plugging away, and the game turned in the last few minutes,'' he said. ''That shows what can happen when you never give up.''

After the Dragons had scored two tries in the final four minutes to steal victory from the Roosters, who had led by eight points, it was something of a miracle they even bothered to take the conversion for Ben Creagh's match-winning try, such were the frenzied celebrations.

A crowd of over 40,000 get's ready for some Anzac Day Rugby League in Sydney. Click for more photos

Anzac Rugby League - Roosters v Dragons 2012

Rugby League and the Anzac spirit go hand in hand in this yearly match up between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Can the Dragons make it 5 Anzac wins in a row or will the Roosters win their first since 2007? All pictures by Steve Christo. Selected images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com. Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH. Photo: Steve Christo

But five-eighth Jamie Soward handed the ball to Hornby, who broke Norm Provan's St George record for appearances yesterday, and the captain kicked the final goal.

''It was a fitting end for a great day for me,'' Hornby said. ''I don't know if it could have gone any better.''

The final minutes were remarkable. Dragons fans had been walking out with five minutes to go, such was the Roosters' apparent comfort. But after Braith Anasta's penalty goal with five minutes remaining, which gave the Roosters a 24-16 lead, the Dragons took a short kick-off, which was fielded by Jason Nightingale, who sent centre Matt Prior away for a try.

Some supporters, walking towards the exits, turned back to their seats, and they would have been thankful; Creagh scored off prop Michael Weyman's offload and the place erupted.

The build-up and the emotion of the occasion is always memorable, but the potential for the contest wasn't great. The Dragons have been accused of being boring this season while the Roosters have been accused of being poor.

But this became a marvellous match. The Roosters threw everything at the Dragons in the first half but the home side's defence remained solid. The Roosters had been torn open by Mitch Rein's incisive run that set up Creagh's opening try, but they too were stout throughout.

The remaining three tries of the half, to Aiden Guerra, Matt Cooper and Anthony Minichiello, all came from high kicks, yet that did not dilute the entertainment value.

The last one, where Minichiello timed a run from a Mitchell Pearce kick perfectly to out-jump Dragons fullback Brett Morris, continued a rather nice subplot. Minichiello, the incumbent NSW fullback, was facing one of the heirs apparent in Morris. The Dragons player had held Minichiello up superbly in the opening minutes of the encounter, but the Rooster got one over Morris here.

And Pearce? Just a few days ago he was off-form and lacking in confidence, now he has produced two superb performances in a row. Three of the Roosters' four tries came from his boot - he helped himself to the third as Morris gambled that the ball would bobble dead.

Even when Pearce didn't mean to, he came up with a key play - Jake Friend's ball took a detour via Pearce's mistimed touch and captain Anasta scored what had appeared to be the clincher.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 28 (B Creagh 2 M Cooper M Prior M Weyman tries J Soward 3 B Hornby goals) bt SYDNEY ROOSTERS 24 (B Anasta A Guerra A Minichiello M Pearce tries B Anasta 4 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Ben Cummins. Crowd: 40,164.

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Dragons Matt Prior and Roosters Jake Friend. Anzac Rugby League - Roosters v Dragons 2012

Rugby League and the Anzac spirit go hand in hand in this yearly match up between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Can the Dragons make it 5 Anzac wins in a row or will the Roosters win their first since 2007? All pictures by Steve Christo. Selected images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com. Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH.

Standings: NRL ladder

Standings in the National Rugby League

Live: St George Illawarra v Sydney Roosters

Join Chris Barrett from 3.30pm for traditional Anzac Day clash between two great NRL rivals.

NRL teams round 8

Teams named today for round 8 of the NRL. (All times local).

A grand game for a grand occasion

It had been an Anzac Day to savour. One that provided the type of breathless contests that prompt unfortunate comparisons between football and real battle.

Late Dragons charge leaves Roosters mired in self pity

''IT WAS a nightmare,'' was the first remark a shattered Braith Anasta could offer, and for good reason. How the Sydney Roosters managed to concede an eight-point lead inside the final five minutes of a thrilling Anzac Cup clash was difficult to comprehend.

Halfback accentuates match positives after his Pearce de resistance

THE trick for the Roosters after such a defeat will be to consider the performance rather than the result. Halfback Mitchell Pearce, arguably the best player on the park but in a losing side, said: ''If we play like that most weeks, we'll definitely be a finals team.''

Five things we learnt from last night's game

What we learnt from yesterday's Anzac Day classic.

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MAN vs CBY 20:05BO
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CBR vs PEN 15:00GIO
WST vs NZW 17:30CSS
NQL vs CRO 19:301300
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SYD vs SOU 16:00AS
GCT vs NEW 18:30Cbus
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MEL vs STG 19:00AAMI
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PEN vs CBY 20:05Pepp
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CBR vs SYD 15:00GIO
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
PAR vs NQL 19:30Pirtek
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GCT vs WST 21:30Cbus
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SYD vs MAN 19:30AS
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CBY vs NZW 17:30Westpac Stadium
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NQL vs PAR 19:301300
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CRO vs PEN 16:00Shark Park
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NEW vs MAN 14:00HS
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SYD vs NEW 17:30CCS
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PEN vs NZW 15:00AMI Stadium
MEL vs NQL 17:30SUN
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Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
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PEN vs GCT 14:00Pepp
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STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
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CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO
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NEW vs PAR 19:00HS
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CBR vs MAN 19:50GIO
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NZW vs BRI 15:00MSS
NQL vs NEW 17:301300
MEL vs PEN 19:30AAMI
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SYD vs WST 16:00AS
SOU vs GCT 18:30nib Stadium
Mon, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs CRO 19:00ANZ
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Thu, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBR 19:50SUN
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:50ANZ
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs NZW 15:00HS
PAR vs GCT 17:30TIO
SYD vs MEL 19:30AS
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MAN vs PEN 16:00BO
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
CRO vs NQL 19:00Shark Park
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SOU vs PAR 19:50ANZ
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs MEL 19:30WIN
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NZW vs SYD 16:00MSS
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GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus
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Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:50Pepp
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NEW vs STG 15:00HS
CRO vs NZW 17:30Shark Park
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
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GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus
MEL vs WST 16:00AAMI
Mon, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NQL vs MAN 19:001300
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Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
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WST vs PEN 17:30ANZ
CRO vs PAR 19:30Shark Park
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CBR vs NEW 14:00GIO
SOU vs NQL 16:00Barlow Park
Mon, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs STG 19:00BO
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Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs SYD 19:50Pirtek
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
CBY vs WST 19:30ANZ
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CRO 16:00Pepp
Mon, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 19:00GIO
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Round 19
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs GCT 19:50Jubilee Oval
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
SOU vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW vs MEL 14:00HS
PEN vs PAR 16:00Pepp
Mon, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 19:00AS
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Round 20
Thu, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBY 19:501300
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:50SUN
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NZW 15:00GIO
GCT vs PAR 17:30Cbus
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO vs NEW 14:00Shark Park
STG vs WST 16:00ANZ
Mon, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU vs MAN 19:00ANZ
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Round 21
Wed, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PEN 22:00MSS
Thu, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
CBY vs STG 00:00ANZ
GCT vs CRO 00:00Cbus
PAR vs WST 00:00ANZ
SOU vs CBR 00:00ANZ
MAN vs NEW 00:00BO
NQL vs MEL 00:001300
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Round 22
Thu, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs BRI 00:00WIN
PAR vs MAN 00:00Pirtek
CRO vs CBR 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
MEL vs SOU 00:00AAMI
GCT vs NZW 00:00Cbus
WST vs NQL 00:00VAS
PEN vs SYD 00:00Pepp
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Round 23
Wed, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SOU 22:00MSS
Thu, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 00:00ANZ
BRI vs PAR 00:00SUN
WST vs GCT 00:00CSS
STG vs CRO 00:00Jubilee Oval
NEW vs PEN 00:00HS
SYD vs NQL 00:00AS
CBR vs MEL 00:00GIO
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Round 24
Thu, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
SYD vs STG 00:00AS
NEW vs GCT 00:00HS
NQL vs NZW 00:001300
MAN vs MEL 00:00BO
CBR vs PAR 00:00GIO
PEN vs WST 00:00Pepp
SOU vs CRO 00:00ANZ
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Round 25
Wed, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs WST 22:00MSS
Thu, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs NQL 00:00Belmore Sports Ground
MEL vs BRI 00:00AAMI
GCT vs PEN 00:00Cbus
MAN vs CBR 00:00BO
CRO vs SYD 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs SOU 00:00HS
PAR vs STG 00:00Pirtek
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Round 26
Wed, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PAR 22:00MSS
Thu, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 00:00SUN
CBY vs SOU 00:00ANZ
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
NQL vs GCT 00:001300
MEL vs CRO 00:00AAMI
WST vs CBR 00:00VAS
PEN vs MAN 00:00Pepp
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