Roosters vanquish Dragons in superhero clash
Captain America, the comic book hero, has squared off against many adversaries in his fight for justice and liberty.
On Saturday night the Roosters, the NRL team, sporting their promotional Captain America jerseys, kept their premiership defence fight alive with a 30-22 win against a willing adversary in St George Illawarra.
In a game where both teams lacked cohesion and attacking options, the Roosters got the better of a spirited Dragons outfit to move inside the top four with a five-tries-to-three win.
By no means was it a win that would fill Roosters coach Trent Robinson with a lot of confidence.
The big positive was the successful return of Origin centre Michael Jennings.
It was just like riding a bike for Jennings on his return from injury as he was involved in both of the Roosters' tries in the first half.
He crossed for the opening try of the game after eight minutes from a James Maloney bomb.
He then was part of a slick backline move that was finished off by Nene Macdonald to give the Roosters the half-time lead.
His attacking brilliance was the highlight of the Roosters attack that lacked an X-factor and was one-dimensional at times without the injured Sonny Bill Williams.
The Dragons took advantage of the Roosters' sloppy first half and dominated possession despite running into the wind and were rewarded with two tries.
Brett Morris was gifted a four-pointer after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck fumbled a Gareth Widdop kick to open the scoring.
Widdop then supplied the pass for the second try as Joel Thompson strolled through some uncharacteristic poor defence from the Roosters to take the lead.
The Dragons were helped by a fortunate quick tap call that allowed Brett Morris to split the Roosters defence and it never recovered.
Unfortunately the joint venture could not replicate their iron man-themed jerseys for long enough periods and were caught swapping the hard yards for sideways attack far too often.
The Roosters took full advantage.
And despite wearing the Captain America strip, the Roosters did their best superman impression by coming out of the dressing shed a different team.
It was a superhero stretch from Aidan Guerra that opened the scoring for the tri-colours early in the second half.
The Queensland back-rower twisted, turned and somehow managed to get the ball down on the try line under all sorts of pressure to extend the lead to eight.
It was fitting Jennings scored the try that put the game to bed with his second try off another Maloney kick, pushing the home team out by 14 points.
Not even a Benji Marshall special solo try was enough for the Dragons to mount a comeback and it was Jake Friend who put the icing on the cake with a well-deserved try after again topping the tackle count.
Josh Dugan, whose battle with Jennings was a highlight of the night, crossed for a consolation try to close the winning margin to eight.
Despite their 10th loss of the year and potentially dropping as low as 13th at the completion of the round, finals footy is not out of the equation for the Dragons. Four out of their last five games are against teams outside the eight and since Paul McGregor took over the reins of the joint venture in late May, the Dragons have lost only four games: all against teams in the top four.
They will be buoyed by the strong performance of Trent Merrin, who looked back to his Origin form after an injury lay-off.
For the Roosters, the Gold Coast Titans are their next obstacle on what seems a superhero mission to win back-to-back titles. The last team to do so was Brisbane in 1992-93.
Perhaps the real superheroes were the fans, as 13,083 braved the cold and windy conditions at Allianz Stadium.
Sydney Roosters 30 (M Jennings 2 J Friend A Guerra N MacDonald tries J Maloney 5 goals) St George Illawarra Dragons 22 (J Dugan B Marshall B Morris J Thompson tries G Widdop 3 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 13,083