The surname Carney caused problems of a different kind for the Roosters on Monday, despite it being decided on the morning of the match that troubled star Todd wouldn’t be at the Sydney Football Stadium to watch the game.
His namesake, winger Justin Carney, might have crossed to save some face in the second half, but in the opening period he made crucial blunders which ultimately cost the Roosters dearly.
In the 19th minute, Carney fumbled a Soward kick. St George Illawarra then earned a repeat set, before Carney was found out again when he dropped a pin-point cross-field bomb from Soward, which allowed Mark Gasnier to pick up the dregs and score.
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Carney’s hands let him down at the vital moment again with eight minutes before the break, when he bombed a certain try by making a meal of a draw-and-pass backline movement which would have seen him slide over in the corner.
As a result, the Roosters trailed 6-0 at the break, but with the amount of chances they had, the home side should have been in front against the team that beat them in last year’s grand final.
Carney’s try in the 54th minute did give the Roosters hope, before Dragons flyer Morris ended a personal drought of 830 minutes without an NRL try, when he ran off a Matt Cooper bust to give the defending premiers an 18-4 lead.
The Roosters weren’t done yet, with Mitchell Pearce scooping up a loose pass from Dragon Ben Creagh, and racing 65 metres to score with 13 minutes on the clock.
But Creagh then sealed the deal with a runaway try of his own in the final five minutes.
In wet conditions and down 6-0 at the break, the task became a whole lot tougher for the Roosters when prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves coughed up possession in the first set of the second half – and Mark Gasnier took full advantage, with a strong run putting Darius Boyd under the sticks.
The Dragons were guilty of ill-discipline and sloppy work coming off their own line in the first half, but time after time their rock solid defence was equal to the task.