The Sydney Roosters have booked themselves a preliminary final showdown with Brisbane after defeating Canterbury 38-12 in a drama-charged semi-final at Allianz Stadium on Friday night, with Shaun Kenny-Dowall scoring three tries.
Before a tense, vocal crowd of 35,711, the Roosters led 8-4 at halftime before a controversial Kane Evans try in the 52nd minute opened the way for the minor premiers to lay on 30 second-half points to overcome last week’s upset loss to Melbourne.
Dylan Napa and Boyd Cordner led the way for the Roosters up front as coach Trent Robinson’s ploy of running the massive Dogs pack ragged paid big dividends.
Kenny-Dowall and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck backed up their forwards with big metres as the home side ran away with the contest late.
In his last game for the club, Super League-bound back-rower Frank Pritchard was the Bulldogs’ best as their season came to a disappointing close.
After an early James Maloney penalty goal, Kenny-Dowall scored the first try of the match when Blake Ferguson batted a kick back and the Kiwi winger slid his way over.
In a first half punctuated by dropped ball from both sides, the Roosters frequently took the ball to the edges.
It was a tactic that worked with some success, but the Roosters’ poor handling cost them.
Tim Lafai notched up the Dogs’ first points in the 28th minute when he found his way through a staggered Roosters defensive line after a Brett Morris break from a Sam Kasiano offload.
Lafai missed a gettable conversion for the halftime score of 8-4.
A controversial Kane Evans try in the 62nd minute, in which there was uncertainty over whether the interchange prop grounded the Steeden short of the line or not, put the Roosters ahead 12-4.
Referee Matt Cecchin who was inches from the ball ruled a try, a decision upheld by the video referee.
A brilliant Evans offload two minutes later put Tuivasa-Sheck in the clear and he raced around his opposing fullback Brett Morris to score and put the Roosters further ahead 20-4.
Kenny-Dowall crossed for his second try out wide in the 65th minute, before Cordner surged over for a 73rd-minute four-pointer.
Kenny-Dowall added his third with three minutes to play.
Curtis Rona’s 80th-minute try, his 23rd for the season, equalled the Bulldogs’ season tryscoring record alongside Ben Barba and Nigel Vagana.
The Roosters will play Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium next Friday for a spot in the grand final.