Dragons stun Roosters with late try in NRL thriller
St George Illawarra are riding high after a last-gasp stroke of genius from fullback Tyrell Sloan helped them upset the Sydney Roosters 24-22 and ring in the post-Anthony Griffin era with a bang.
The win in Ryan Carr's first game as interim coach snaps a six-game losing streak that cost Griffin his job on Tuesday and eases the pressure that has been building on the Dragons since the pre-season.
The Dragons gave up a 14-0 lead in the second half once James Tedesco and Luke Keary began to fire and threatened to fall in a close encounter, just as they did in the first five losses of their 2023 slump.
But with numbers on the left side of the field in the final 20 seconds, Sloan kicked cross-field to Mathew Feagai, who levelled the scores as the siren sounded.
Zac Lomax's wayward goal-kicking cost the Dragons on their losing streak but his conversion of the Feagai try stopped the rot and sealed a famous win at Kogarah.
Dragons captain Ben Hunt praised his side on finishing its tumultuous week on a high.
"I just really feel like we deserved that tonight," captain Ben Hunt said.
"With all the hard work we've put in the last two months and just falling short. Apart from last week, we've been in every game.
"It's been a whirlwind of emotions this week. It's no secret how close I am with Hook (Griffin) so I was obviously very disappointed for him.
"We finally got a bounce of the ball there at the end."
The error-prone Roosters lifted their game in a tightly-fought second half but have now lost their past three games by a combined total of 92-32, failing to score any first-half points during that time.
Trent Robinson was heartened by his side's resolve to claw back in the second half, though.
"It's funny to say, but I really enjoyed the game," he said.
"You can see that we're a team that's fighting to find ourselves a little bit.
"I really enjoyed seeing the team fight for it in the middle of the game, desperate to get the momentum going."
The Roosters are set for more disruption with Tedesco and Lindsay Collins' impending State of Origin selections and will lose hooker Brandon Smith to a suspected thumb fracture.
Victor Radley is also facing a nervous wait after being placed on report for head-butting Dragons prop Blake Lawrie during a fracas in the first half.
Tedesco was the best in a beaten team, silencing speculation as to his Origin credentials by hoisting the Roosters back into the fight.
The fullback leapt high to catch a careering Smith pass and flopped over for a try in the 50th minute.
Three minutes later, he took Nathan Brown's short pass and tore through the middle, eventually offloading to a flying Luke Keary, whose second try had the Roosters in front for the first time at 16-14.
"We started to get some sets together in the second half, started to get some momentum, and I can play off the back of that," Tedesco said.
"When we got in the grind, we started to play some really good footy."
Hunt put the Dragons on top again with a short ball out of dummy-half for Jaydn Su'A but Tedesco returned serve to his rival captain by stripping the ball from Moses Suli and crashing over for a try.
The Roosters looked to be closing in on victory, but that was until the Dragons caught the defence out of place. Wiradjuri man Sloan sealed victory in Indigenous Round.
"It's been a big week. Everyone's been through a lot," Carr said.
"I was just proud of how the boys chased the game right until the end."