Fulltime score: Round 8 Tigers 32 v Dragons 40
The St George Illawarra Dragons have staged a remarkable comeback to defeat a gallant Wests Tigers side 40-32 at Telstra Stadium this afternoon.
The Tigers held a commanding twelve point lead at half time and went into the break at 24-12, looking by far the dominant team and very sharp in the opening forty minutes.
The second half was a different story with the Dragons breathing fire for forty minutes and they reeled the Tigers in even though half back and goal kicker Matthew Head was missing with ligament damage to his ankle.
In the absence of Matthew Head, Ben Hornby took his game to another level and filled the role of play maker to perfection with Trent Barrett chiming in when needed.
The difference in an excellent game of football was the class of the Dragons big guns and none were classier than Mark Gasnier, who scored two crucial second half tries and set up another to play a pivotal role in the Dragons second half fight back.
The Tigers were gallant in defeat and Brett Hodgson had another mighty game for the Tigers, capping off an excellent start to the year by being named fullback of the City side to face Country next Friday night.
Tigers young gun Liam Fulton also played an inspired match, scoring two tries but also let one through a one on one strip early in the second half that acted as a catalyst for the Dragons revival.
Tim Sheens would no doubt be frustrated with a loss under such trying circumstances but if he can lure one or two more class players to the club, then they will be a force in years to come.
As for the Dragons, Nathan Brown has slowly righted the ship and the Dragons are now looking a lot more determined and focused than they did a month ago. The question is, can they keep it up and still make a go of it in 2005? Watch this space�
Scorers: WESTS TIGERS 32 Tries: Laffranchi, Hodgson, Fulton x 2, Payten Goals: Hodgson 6/6
DRAGONS 40 Tries: Torrens x 2, Best, Creagh, Gasnier x 2, Hornby. Goals: Head 2/2, Ennis 4/5
Telstra Stadium Referee: Jason Robinson
Live commentary: 1st min: Kickoff! We are underway at Telstra Stadium this afternoon.
7th min: A great opening to the match with both teams looking very sharp. No score yet.
12th min: The Tigers are looking very sharp early on and the Dragons are taking in the deep breaths to keep up with the play. Skandalis and Marshall are having impressive games.
16th min: TRY - Dragons. Albert Torrens scores off a great cross field kick from Matthew Head but the video replay has revealed Torrens lost the ball over the line. Daniel Fitzhenry wanted nothing to do with it and has made the Tigers pay the price. Conversion successful. 6 all.
21st min: TRY - Tigers. Brett Hodgson scores off a set play from the scrum and races away 50 metres to score adjacent to the posts. Conversion successful. Tigers 12-6.
28th min: No try - Dragons. Albert Torrens hass taken out the corner post as the Tigers bring the ball back to the 20 metre line and Robbie Farah catches the Dragons defence napping to go on a long run into Dragons territory.
31st min: TRY - Tigers. Liam Fulton scores off a Brett Hodgson pass to put the Tigers into a commanding position with less than ten minutes to the half time break. Conversion successful. Tigers 18-6.
33rd min: TRY - Dragons. Albert Torrens scores after Liam Fulton had the ball stripped by Mark Gasnier to get the Dragons back into the match. Conversion successful. Tigers 18-12.
39th min: TRY - Tigers. Liam Fulton gets a double to enable the Tigers to take a handy lead going into half time. Conversion successful. Tigers 24-12.
HALF TIME: The Tigers have completely dominated the first half and it is refelcted in a twelve point lead to the Tigers. Saints have it all to do in the second half if they are to win this match.
41st min: TRY - Dragons. Colin Best scores immediately after the kick off as the Tigers fumble the ball. Conversion successful. Tigers 24-18.
NEWS: Matthew Head has left the field on the medi cab and is now on cructches. Once the extent of the injury is know, we will report and info we have. Benjo Marshall also looks to have sustained a shoulder injury in the first minute of the second half.
51st min: PENALTY GOAL - Tigers. Brett Hodgson kicks the Tigers to a handy eight point lead. Tigers 26-18.
58th min: NO TRY - Dragons. Michael Ennis denied. Contentious decision as the video ref throws back to Jason Robinson for a refs call and Robinson calls held up on the second tackle. A round of boos greets the referee's decision.
61st min: TRY - Dragons. Ben Hornby passes to Gasnier and then Gasnier onto Creagh for the try to set up a thrilling finish to the match with the Dragons coming home with a wet sail. Conversion unsuccessful. Tigers 26-22.
66th min: TRY - Dragons. Mark Gasnier scores a great try as the Dragons continue their second half resurgence and a successful kick will put the Dragons in front for the first time in the match. Conversion successful. Dragons 28-26.
69th min: TRY - Dragons. Another converted try to virtually assure the Dragons win a hard fought match. Conversion successful. Dragons 34-26.
76th min: No change in the score and St George Illawarra have the game won after the Tigers try valiantly to bridge the gap but it has proven to be a bridge too far.
78th min: TRY - Dragons. Ben Hornby stretches out to score and extend the Dragons lead. The scoreline has not been an indication of how close this game really was. Conversion successful. Dragons 40-26.
80th min: TRY - Tigers. Todd Payten scores to give the final scoreline some respectability. Conversion successful. Dragons 40-32.
FULL TIME: The Dragons have run out winners after a mighty second half to overrun the Tigers in the second half. The Dragons have recorded back to back wins for the first time this year. The Tigers now find themselves in a precarious position after losing a game they really should have won.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Hornby (Dragons) 2 - B Hodgson (Tigers) 1 - M Ennis (Dragons) -----------------------------------------