Boyd Cordner’s much anticipated return has failed to lift Sydney Roosters off the bottom of the NRL ladder, the Tricolours falling to a Gareth Widdop inspired St George Illawarra 20-18 at Allianz Stadium on Monday.
Widdop’s first half kicking on Anzac Day before 34,483 fans helped put the Dragons out to a 18-0 halftime lead.
The Roosters were the better side in the second half but couldn’t make the most of their opportunities.
A controversial penalty goal from an alleged late tackle on Mitch Rein by Roosters prop Kane Evans was the difference between the sides.
The Roosters are now 1-7, the win was the Dragons fourth of the year in a game dominated by dropped ball and lacklustre play.
During the early softening up period the only score was a Gareth Widdop penalty in the 10th minute.
In the 21st minute Widdop toed through a spilt ball from Latrell Mitchell and pounced on the Steeden in the in-goal for the game’s opening try.
The Dragons went further ahead five minutes later when Jason Nightingale dived on another Widdop kick.
Kalifa Faifai Loa intercepted a loose pass from debutant playmaker Ryan Matterson two minutes before the break and raced 70m untouched for the Dragons to lead 18-0 at the break.
Jake Friend crashed over soon after the restart for the Roosters’ opener before Evans offended allowing Widdop to put the home side out to 20-6.
But then the Roosters came charging home through tries to Latrell Mitchell in the 58th minute, and Ryan Matterson in the 75th.
Roosters prop Dylan Napa was put on report for a high tackle on Taane Milne to give the Dragons some breathing space with two minutes on the clock.
The Roosters had one last chance on the stroke of fulltime but their side-to-side movement was finally shut down by the Dragons.
Roosters prop Sam Moa was put on report for a shoulder charge on Widdop.
Tricolours interchange forward Eloni Vunakece was also on report for a crusher tackle.