The vast majority of the 502 fans who walked into Bankwest Stadium on Friday night were expecting a Roosters cakewalk.
Even with the absence of James Tedesco and Josh Morris. The decision to move Jake Friend to the bench. The mass reshuffle that ensued, St George Illawarra were not given a hope.
And when former Dragon Brett Morris crossed in just the fourth minute, it looked like the bookmakers' predictions would come to fruition.
A second Sydney try followed soon after, the Roosters in complete control at 10-0 after 17 minutes.
And then the game turned on its head.
Sam Verrills went down with a suspected ACL tear, the second such injury the Roosters had suffered on the night, and St George Illawarra were back on the attack.
Up stepped Matt Dufty, showing off his new-found ball-playing abilities. The fullback delivered a sublime pass to put Mikaele Ravalawa over in the corner.
A Daniel Tupou error put St George Illawarra back on the attack just a minute later, with Dufty yet again producing the final pass as Zac Lomax scored. The centre then converted his own try to level the scores.
The injury to Verrills was the Roosters second suspected ACL tear suffered in near-identical fashion in the first half, Victor Radley going down in the eighth minute. The latter prompted the Roosters to raise concerns with the ground manager over the state of the playing surface.
In a statement, a Bankwest Stadium spokesman conceded the surface is starting to suffer from the wear and tear of hosting a heavy workload.
"The stadium turf has been holding up well under a heavy playing schedule," the spokesman said.
"Signs of wear and tear are a result of the winter rye grass not getting sufficient time to grow between events, but pre-game testing indicates the surface is stable and safe.
"Any injuries to players are a concern. The stadium team will work with the NRL and clubs to ensure the best possible surface for each and every game."
While they were uncharacteristically sloppy to finish the first half, The Roosters opened the second half the way they started the opening 40, full of running.
It was the Dragons, however, who opened the scoring after the break.
With the bunker disallowing a long-range Luke Keary try due to an offside player at the start of the attacking movement, Lomax stepped up to put his side two points in front.
Suddenly it was the Dragons in control and looking destined for an unlikely upset.
It didn't take long for Trent Robinson's side to change that.
Off the back of a seven tackle set, the Roosters marched down the field before Morris pounced on a grubber to cross for his second and hand his side a 14-12 lead.
That seven tackle set, McGregor felt, was the moment his side started to lose their grip on the match.
"It was a big turning point in the game, around that 50-minute mark," McGregor said. "Euan chased for that try, it went from a dropout to a 20-metre tap.
"The next 12 minutes, they went up another level and we surrendered a lot of possession during that time.
"They showed what a great side they are, we learned a few lessons out of it. That's probably the match there.
"I thought there were good things in the game to take away. Our players are out there learning the game, they were learning off the best today in the Roosters."
Throughout the final 30 minutes, St George Illawarra were gallant in defence, but the defending premiers' class shone through.
With the Dragons' error count starting to creep up, the weight of possession eventually proved too much as Keary crossed under the sticks to push the margin to eight with 13 minutes to play.
Morris completed his hat-trick nine minutes later, the Kiama product plucking a cross-field kick out of the air to seal a 26-12 victory.
While many fans expected an easy Roosters victory, Sydney coach Trent Robinson said his side turned up to Bankwest Stadium prepared for a tough encounter.
"They were great," Robinson said. "The way they defended and pressured. Mary should be really proud about the way they fought.
"We were ready to play. That wasn't us having an off day, we were ready to play, they were ready to play. They played their systems well, they attacked well.
"Mary should be proud about the way they played and the way he's coached them."
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