Hurt Roosters out to make Dragons pay - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hurt Roosters out to make Dragons pay

By Steve Jancetic 24/04/2009 05:31:14 PM Comments (0)

The Sydney Roosters are hurting, and coach Brad Fittler claims it will take the backlash of 17 players and not just those snubbed by NSW selectors to ease the pain in Saturday's Anzac Day derby.

Tipped as finals probables after reaching the last six in 2008, the Roosters are languishing in 13th spot on the ladder.

Their latest effort, a meek surrender across the Tasman when they let a 16-0 halftime lead slip into a 17-16 golden point loss to the Warriors.

Arriving home to howls of criticism, the Roosters were then kicked closer to the kerb when star trio Willie Mason, Craig Fitzgibbon and Braith Anasta were all snubbed by NSW selectors who named a preliminary 40-man squad for this year's Origin series.

That was followed by a newspaper report questioning the Roosters' fitness levels in relation to points conceded over the back end of matches.

Heaven help St George Illawarra if the motivation kicks in at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.

"I'd be disappointed if they all don't have a real crack," Fittler said ahead of his side's final training run on Friday.

"It wasn't a costly loss but it hurt, we had a good lead and we fell away.

"I think a few things that happened during the week, hopefully it's all a source of motivation.

"These (Anzac Day games) are normally fantastic, I thought last year was a bit sour - whether that was because it was out at Homebush or not, it wasn't that great a game, generally these clashes are really good tough games of footy - I expect nothing different."

Asked if he had sensed a new resolve amongst his team, Fittler said:

"They came in, you could see they were really focussed.

"I'm sure there's real intent and they'll come out for a game of footy tomorrow."

As for the fade-outs, Fittler said it was just a case of numbers being weaved to point a different picture.

"We've won three second halves this year, I think that's the second highest," he said.

"The points against us doesn't look good but there was a game where we had 30 and there was a game where we had 22.

"If you look at the other side in the first half we've allowed 16 points in five games."

Dragons skipper Ben Hornby said his side was wary of the wounded Roosters in what is a reversal of fortunes compared to last year's clash.

Heading into the 2008 encounter the Dragons had won only one of their first six games while the Roosters were riding high in fourth spot.

Blasted by a pre-game rev-up from former coach Nathan Brown, the Dragons responded with a 26-6 win which turned their season around.

"We're not fearful," Hornby said of the motivated Roosters.

"We know it's going to spur them on a little bit more ... we're not too worried about it though."

The Dragons suffered a blow on the match eve with Wendell Sailor ruled out with a hamstring injury, former Kiwi Test winger Jason Nightingale coming off a five-man to take his place.

Fittler will decide on game-day which of Ben Jones or Jordan Tansey will replace injured bench utility Mitchell Aubusson (back).

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