St George Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters

Not long into our relationship, my girlfriend asked what I would choose if I had to decide between music and sport. Not wanting to even consider a world without either, I had no answer for her at the time. Later however, when in a more contemplative state of mind, I decided that it had to be music. The simple reason? There is nothing frivolous or silly about a passion for music, but not a day goes by that I don’t realise how ridiculous it is to have my happiness dictated to me by the fortunes of seventeen meathead football players. Skipping my annual Anzac Day pilgrimage to the SFS in order to attend a music event earlier in the day seemed to bear this out, and yet the miraculous events that would occur in this glorious game left me wondering if I had made the right choice after all.

And so Moore Park was replaced by The Tempe Hotel; the roar of 40,000 passionate fans for the classic rock radio blaring throughout the pub. As the cameras pan to the two teams lining up, a bugler sounding The Last Post, Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is blasts from the speakers. It is an oddly fitting juxtaposition. Terrible song though.

As the game begins we are in more familiar rugby league territory, with a double dose of bogan rock in AC/DC. We start with Long Way to the Top, as Benny Creagh coughs the ball up, making it an even longer way for the Dragons. Not long after, it is the Roosters with the first real chance. Minichello has the ball with an open tryline in front of him before being brilliantly held up by Brett Morris. As the try is formally disallowed the AC/DC double continues with Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, another perfect juxtaposition with the on-field action. We all know what Morris can do with the ball in his hands, but it has been his defensive work that has really stood out since taking on the fullback role at the Dragons. Once again he shows he is not afraid of doing the dirty work.

However, it turns out I may have praised him too soon. He is dragged back in goal by the Roosters defence, as The Eagles’ Heartache Tonight sounds through the speakers. The heartache continues soon after as Mini plucks a bomb from out of Morris’ hands to score the second try for the Roosters, and so we go to the break with the Dragons two points in arrears at 12-10. The New Radicals’ You Get What You Give adds a modern, if no less bland, touch to the Classic Rock playlist, and with the two teams effectively cancelling each other out in the opening 40 one gets the feeling it will be the team that gives the most who takes out this one.

So it proved, and what an absorbing second half it was. The Roosters had much the better of it, and when Jamie Soward was penalised in front of the goal posts in the 74th minute, it appeared the match was over. The penalty was duly slotted, giving the Roosters a seemingly insurmountable 8 point lead.

The Dragons recovered a short kick off via the always superb Jason Nightingale, who not only regathered but went on a run to send Matt Prior over in the corner. Still, with only a couple of minutes left, I was left to rue that penalty goal, which looked like being the difference. As Let It Be sounded through the pub, I took comfort. You can’t win them all I guess, let it be.

Well it turns out today there was an answer, and his name was Michael Weyman. Moruya’s finest capped off a sensational game by sending Ben Creagh over the line for the decisive last minute try, following on from a miraculous Nightingale chip to force a Roosters dropout.

And so a thoroughly entertaining match comes to an end. I leave the pub to the opening strains of Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule the World, on a day where both teams proved that they are well in the mix to rule the NRL world.

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