Round 26 St George Illawarra Dragons 36 vs Newcastle Knights 28
Match summary: The Dragons wrapped up second place today with a 36-28 win over a brave Newcastle Knights team at Oki Jubilee Oval at Kogarah. The Dragons led 22-6 at half time.
The Knights opened the scoring with a try in the 4th minute to Steve Simpson. The Dragons responded with three tries in nine minutes with tries to Colin Best, Ben Creagh and Shaun Timmins to lead 16-6 after 19 minutes. The match meandered along until the 38th minute, when Luke Bailey scored a powerhouse try to give the Dragons a strong lead of 22-6 at the break.
The Knights burst out of the blocks in the second half with a try to George Carmont. Michael Ennis was denied a try and that seemed to spark impetus into the Knights as Brad Tighe scored three minutes later. Ennis added a penalty goal to restore the Dragons eight point lead. Steve Simpson scored his second just after the hour mark, dragging defenders across the line. Five minutes later the Dragons got across with a try to Jason Ryles. Tighe scored his second with nine minutes to go, but the Dragons sealed the win with a minute left following a try to Wes Naiqama.
The Dragons will play Cronulla at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Saturday night. The Knights can go to Mad Monday, Andrew Johns to Warrington.
For nervous Warrington fans, Johns was limping but seemed to recover well to lead a strong Knights comeback.
Dragons v Knights match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 36 Tries: Best, Creagh, Timmins, Bailey, Ryles, Naiqama Goals: Naiqama (3/4), Ennis (3/3) NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 28 Tries: Simpson 2, Tighe 2, Carmont Goals: Johns (4/4), Gidley (0/1)
Venue: Oki Jubilee Oval (Kogarah) Crowd: 15,867 Referee: Tony Archer Half Time: Dragons 22-6
Live commentary: 2nd plays 15th today, but that belies the great form both teams are in. The Knights have been handed the wooden spoon overnight by Souths, but are looking to knock off the competition favourites.
0 min: Kickoff at Kogarah!
4 min: The Knights are applying the early pressure on the Dragons.
4 min: TRY - Knights On the back of a line drop out, Steve Simpson crashes through a gap and scores. Johns converts. Knights 6-0.
8 min: A limping Johns just misses out on a 40/20, but had his foot on the 40. The Dragons break out from the scrum, but the ball is knocked down.
10 min: TRY - Dragons Colin Best catches a Hornby bomb out wide and weaves around to score under the posts. Naiqama converts. 6-all.
14 min: TRY - Dragons Johns throws an intercept and from the ensuing play Ben Creagh barges across. Naiqamas kick from out wide is good. 12-6 Dragons.
19 min: TRY - Dragons The Dragons get a repeat set via a penalty, and Timmins crashes across out wide. Naiqama misses the kick. Dragons 16-6.
27 min: Thaiday is being tested at the back, but has done well so far.
33 min: With the Knights on attack, Horby drops an intercept.
36 min: The Dragons make a mistake on the first tackle inside the Knights 10.
38 min: TRY - Dragons Bailey gets the ball 10 metres out and goes through 3 tacklers to score. Ennis converts. 22-6 Dragons.
HALF TIME: Tempers are getting frayed as the Dragons take a 22-6 lead into half time. The Knights opened the scoring and looks the goods before the Dragons scored 3 tries in 10 minutes as they turned on the Premiership Potential as they started to put the pressure on the Knights, forcing them over the sideline and the like. The Dragons forwards again, in particular Luke Bailey are putting in sterling efforts. For the Knights, Andrew Johns has picked up an ankle injury and is playing on, but he isn't in good shape. Second half coming up soon.
40 min: The second half kicks off!
41 min: UPDATE - Johns has a corked shin. He intends to play at least another 15 minutes, but he is a dead weight at the moment.
43 min: Colin Best returns a kick nearly 60 metres and is stopped in a try saver by Salkeld.
45 min: TRY - Knights Great hands down the short side sees Carmont score out wide. Gidley takes over the kicking duties and just misses. Dragons 22-10.
47 min: The Knights let the kickoff bounce and will give away a goal line drop out.
48 min: NO TRY - Dragons Ennis dummies from dummy half, but is ruled to have used a double movement to get across the line.
51 min: TRY - Knights Quick hands see Tighe score out on the sideline. Johns takes back the kicking duties and nails the kick. Dragons 22-16.
53 min: Johns puts a bomb up which comes down with snow on it, and Greenshield drops it in the in goal area.
58 min: PENALTY GOAL - Dragons Gidley is penalised for holding Ryles back after a Barrett bust. Ennis converts the penalty. Dragons 24-16.
61 min: TRY - Knights Simpson drags half of the Dragons team over the line to get a second. Johns converts. Dragons 24-22.
66 min: TRY - Dragons A simple missed tackle sees Ryles score by the posts. Ryles celebrates with two half hearted push ups. Ennis restores the 8 point buffer. Dragons 30-22.
68 min: Johns is getting frustrated with the high tackles being called against the Knights.
71 min: TRY - Knights The Knights get some real go forward and Brad Tighe ghosts through and scores. Johns converts from out wide again. Dragons 30-28.
76 min: The Knights are finishing with a wet sail, making plenty of metres in their sets of six.
78 min: The Knights break out from inside their own 20 on the last tackle, but the ball is passed into touch.
79 min: TRY - Dragons A bomb goes up to the wing of Naiqama, and he comes down with it and scores. He converts his own try.
FULL TIME: The regular season comes to an end. The Dragons have wrapped up second place and will play the Sharks in Wollongong on Saturday night. The Knights were gallant in defeat, but that is scant consolation as they end up with the wooden spoon anyway.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - L Bailey (Dragons) 2 - J Ryles (Dragons) 1 - A Johns (Knights) -----------------------------------------