“That’s disappointing,” McGregor said after the Roosters won 24-16. “It’s very disappointing. We’re well aware of what our responsibilities are. We talk about it consistently. There’s no reason for it except it’s selfish behaviour really.
“We spoke about whatever it takes and needing to do the right thing by one another and the game. Everyone’s got to have some sacrifices and that’s just one of them. The game has done a lot to get back going and we’ve got to be respectful of that.”
There’s no reason for it except it’s selfish behaviour really
Vaughan has apologised to the Dragons staff and players, but McGregor was yet to speak to him personally. Vaughan will also be unavailable against the high-flying Eels next week.
Mitchell Aubusson crashed over for a try in his 300th NRL match, becoming just the eighth player to manage the feat in the milestone match.
His first-half four-pointer – along with Joseph Manu’s double and a powerhouse 260-metre, 80-minute performance from Siosiua Taukeiaho – cemented the Roosters’ top-four status.
Trent Robinson’s side were without more than a third of their salary cap with Boyd Cordner, Angus Crichton, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Victor Radley, Sam Verrills, Daniel Tupou and the Morris twins all sidelined.
“We had a part where we were on fire and you’re getting big wins and the last 20 minutes is about by how far,” Robinson said.
“Now we’ve gone through a period where we’re fighting for wins and you’re having to manage the last 20 minutes with the game in the balance – and you learn a lot of stuff there as well. That’s the period we’re in.
“If ever it was the ultimate club night and ultimate clubman it was tonight for Aubo.”
Aubusson had lost his 50th, 100th, 150th, 200th and 250th matches, but finally cracked it for a win.
The scores were locked at 10-all at the break after Zac Lomax’s double clawed back the Roosters’ early lead.
But Sitili Tupouniua crashed over just minutes into the second half and when Manu bagged his second – from a high ball which was let bounce by the Dragons’ back three – the result was sealed.
“That bounce of the ball broke it for us,” McGregor said. “We gave away 12 points under no fatigue [with tries at the start of each half] which is disappointing.”
Said Robinson: “I loved the game and really enjoyed watching it. It was good to see the guys keep playing footy, go through some struggle and then come out on top.”
The Dragons’ night was further soured with Tariq Sims leaving the field with a shoulder injury while Jackson Ford was placed on report for a trip on Luke Keary as he crossed for the Roosters’ last try.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 24 (Joseph Manu 2, Mitchell Aubusson, Sitili Tupouniua, Luke Keary tries; Siosiua Taukeiaho 2 goals) defeated ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 16 (Zac Lomax 2, Matt Dufty tries; Lomax 2 goals) at WIN Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein.
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Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.