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Five of the Best: Anzac Day Cup Matches

Season 2021 marks the 20th annual Anzac Day Cup, and since the inaugural match in 2002, there have been plenty of memorable moments between the Roosters and Dragons on the biggest day of the year. It was hard to narrow down, but here are Five of the Best in chronological order.

 

Freddy Steps Up In Close Call: Round 7, 2004, Sydney Football Stadium

Split down the middle in the first two Anzac Day Cup matches, the Roosters and Dragons entered 2004 with one victory each and on equal points difference, both taking 24-20 wins in the first two contest.  

In a battle of attrition in the first 40 minutes, the sides traded blows throughout, but only a solitary penalty goal from Roosters outside back Chris Walker could separate the sides as tries were denied for either side.  

But the Dragons would open the scoring minutes after the resumption as winger Reece Simmonds touched down in the corner, and with a penalty goal extending their lead to 8-2, the Roosters had plenty to do to take home the Anzac Day Cup. 

Now Fittler...puts on a step! Goes right through, puts on a step again! Oh go Freddy! That was magnificent stuff!

Ray Warren Calling Brad Fittler's incredible try on Anzac Day, 2004

Stepping up to the plate as he often did was mercurial captain Brad Fittler, who pulled off an iconic line break and sidestep to bring the scores level in the 61st minute, made all the more memorable by Ray Warren's call: "Now Fittler...puts on a step! Goes right through, puts on a step again! Oh go Freddy! That was magnificent stuff!"

Halfback Brett Finch slotted a field goal soon after to give the Red, White and Blue the lead, and a Michael Crocker penalty goal iced a nail-biting 11-8 win. 

Tricolour Thousand: Round 7, 2007, Sydney Football Stadium

Looking to claim the Anzac Day Cup for the first time since the 2004 thriller, the Sydney Roosters also had plenty to prove, having yet to win a match in the first six rounds of the competition - and stuck on 999 Club wins.

But on Anzac Day, the result everyone had been waiting for finally arrived, as the mighty Tricolours claimed a famous victory against the Dragons, appropriately on home turf and in their heritage jersey. 

After a 20 minute deadlock, Amos Roberts got the Roosters into action, putting a young Mitchell Pearce through the defence, who sparked a chain of offloads that saw the halfback put up a cross-field bomb that found Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

Having previously served in WWII,  Ferris Ashton (right)  is immortalised as one half of the Ashton-Collier Medal, presented to the man of the match in the annual Anzac Day Cup.
Having previously served in WWII, Ferris Ashton (right) is immortalised as one half of the Ashton-Collier Medal, presented to the man of the match in the annual Anzac Day Cup.

Five minutes later it was Kenny-Dowall's centre partner Sam Perrett who soared to catch a near-identical kick - this time from Braith Anasta - to extend the lead as the Roosters went into the sheds 10-nil up.

As the emotions of the day saw the two sides come to grips, Anasta took charge ten minutes into the second half, executing a brilliant cut-out pass to Kenny-Dowall who claimed his double.

Although the Dragons managed to score a try of their own, the Red, White and Blue were victorious, bringing home the Anzac Day Cup by claiming their 1000th win and their first of 2007. 

Drought Breakers: Round 7, 2013, Sydney Football Stadium

After five long years without the Anzac Day Cup, the Roosters of 2013 claimed back the title in emphatic fashion, eradicating the heartbreaking loss from the year before.  

But it would be the Dragons who struck first after four minutes through a scrappy try from a kick, but the wake-up call for the Roosters saw Mitchell Aubusson burst through from a short ball close to the line.

The Red, White and Blue got on the scoresheet once more, with a 55-metre effort seeing Michael Jennings go over, and just minutes later it was captain Anthony Minichiello's turn to extend the lead.

The first half cheers continued for the Red, White and Blue with Martin Kennedy going over as they went into the sheds up 22-4 at the break.

Roosters v Dragons - Round 7 (Highlights)

Daniel Tupou extended the lead ten minutes into the second half in a frantic piece of play, as the Roosters took advantage of their opponents' hesitation to take possession from a kick, and it was all over when Jennings bagged his double, flying onto a Jake Friend grubber close to the line. 

The Dragons scored a consolation try but it was the Roosters who proudly held the Anzac Day Cup aloft, ending a five-year drought in style. 

Pearce Punishes Dragons: Round 8, 2017, Sydney Football Stadium

The Anzac Day Cup is traditionally a close contest no matter where the combatants are on the NRL ladder, but no one could have predicted the ending to this one.

St George Illawarra got on the board early after missing a penalty goal, scoring on the ensuing set through Joel Thompson for the first try. In a tight first half, the Dragons would go to the sheds with a 6-nil lead, which could have been more had the Tricolours not held them out in the final minute in a desperate effort from Daniel Tupou.

Ten minutes after the break, the Roosters scored through a scheming Jake Friend, who stabbed a grubber kick behind the line after a darting run from Mitchell Pearce, with Blake Ferguson diving on the ball to score.

R8-SHEDS-PEARCE

The enigmatic winger thought he was over for his second ten minutes later, but the pass that put him over was called forward much to the distress of the Chookpen faithful. Pearce would put his second mark on the match with fifteen to go, running off a Friend pass to storm over under the post in dramatic fashion, regaining possession after initially fumbling the Steeden on his way down.

After a drop-out went awry for the Dragons, a penalty goal through Michael Gordon gave the boys from Bondi a six-point lead with less than five minutes left, but the contest would gain another level of tension as their opponents scored a levelling try, forcing extra time. 

Roosters v Dragons | Anzac Day 2017

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Ferguson's poise to let a kick bounce over the dead ball line paid dividends for the Red, White and Blue, as they trundled downfield on their seven-tackle set - and Peace iced the match with a 30-metre field goal - with the Sydney Football Stadium going into raptures in one of the most memorable Anzac Day clashes. 

Roosters Rally for Aubo: Round 13, 2020, WIN Stadium Wollongong

The most unconventional of seasons meant that the traditional Anzac Day Cup would be contested in the most unconventional of circumstances.

With the match moved to Wollongong due to the turbulent 2020 season affected by covid-19, it also marked the 300th time Mitchell Aubusson would pull on the famous Tricolours - and his teammates ensured that it would be a memorable one for the fan-favourite. 

Highlights | Dragons v Roosters

Deputising in the outside backs, Aubusson's centre partner Joseph Manu began proceedings just two minutes in, showing plenty of strength as he barged over the line from dummy-half.

Ten minutes later, the milestone man took advantage of some quick hands on the left as he dived over on the other side of the field to mark the occasion with a try to his name. The Dragons hit back with a four-pointer of their own with a quarter of the match gone, and another try on the stroke of half-time saw the scores level at 10-all.

Not to be outdone, once again the Roosters shot out of the blocks early as Sitili Tupouniua went over after some expansive play on the left saw the young backrower score and hand back the lead to his side. 

Holding off plenty of defensive pressure from their opponents after Adam Clune landed a 40/20, Manu bagged his brace as James Tedesco took a Keary bomb and offloaded to Drew Hutchison, who put the Kiwi centre over.

Keary would go over for a try of his own to seal the result with five minutes left,  with plenty of celebrations had as the Roosters claimed the re-named Lone Pine Cup and Aubusson getting a win on his 300th. 

 

 

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