Saints go marching on to stop Roosters crowing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 September, 1996, 12:00am

St George blasted Sydney City out of the 1996 Australian Rugby League Premiership race with a 36-16 thrashing of the Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium yesterday. Unleashing a brilliant kicking game, the Dragons crushed the Roosters in decisive style. Five of the six St George tries came from kicks, with the other coming from a Roosters mistake. The Dragons' plan to put the pressure on Roosters wingers Darren Junee and Peter Jorgensen worked to perfection.

Both players made errors under the high ball as the Dragons moved to within a single game of the grand final. The Roosters got off to a golden start, scoring from a high kick after less than a minute. But it was all Saints after that, with the Dragons charging to a 16-4 half-time lead to have the game all but won. And when City's star lock Brad Fittler limped off with the recurrence of a groin injury just before the break, the Roosters' fate was well and truly sealed.

Saints extended their lead to 34-4 midway through the second half and were set to totally embarrass the seemingly defenceless Roosters. But Saints relaxed in the final stages, letting in two late tries to earn a blast from coach David Waite. 'If we do that next week against North Sydney, we'll get hammered,' Waite said. 'We can't afford to go to sleep like that again.

'We had a good lead but should have gone right on with the job and of course I'm disappointed we didn't do that.' Halves Anthony Mundine and Noel Goldthorpe led Saints on their big win, terrorising the Roosters with their accurate kicking and enthusiastic chase game. The revival of St George, torn by internal strife brought on by the Super League wrangle and seemingly out of the race for the finals midway through the season, has been little short of a miracle. The Roosters did well to finish in the top four but had their premiership charge halted by a succession of injuries to key players in recent weeks.