The St. George-Illawarra Dragons have run out winners in a close fought, gritty game today against the Newcastle Knights in front of 14,226 fans at WIN Jubilee Oval at Kogarah.
An outstanding performance from the Dragons forwards going forward, and the defensive line saw them hold on to win by 3 points, 19 - 16.
In what was looming to be a hard fought game right from the outset, the Newcastle Knights lost Buderus and Quinn before the game to injury, making way for Timana Tahu and Korbin Sims, the latter having only played yesterday for the Knights NSW Cup side. The Dragons went with Josh Drinkwater to make his debut, which he did early in the second half due to an injury to Dragons fullback Gerard Beale.
It was only 7 minutes before the first scoring play of the game. A penalty to the Dragons from right on front saw Jamie Soward kick for 2 points on what appeared to be the trainers instructions.
After 14 minutes the first try of the game was scored by Brett Morris in the corner following an offload by Trent Merrin. The ball was sent out to Matt Cooper who passed it quickly to Morris to dive over for an easy 4 pointer. Soward converted the try successfully from the sideline to take the score to 8 - 0.
The only other scoring play in the first half came from a Soward field goal in a long range effort. On video replay, the ball bounced off the crossbar and through the posts. The score leading into half time was 9 - 0.
The Knights came out firing on all cylinders after the break, quickly making amends by scoring their first points of the afternoon in the 44th minute. Gidley threw a deft pass to Boyd who crashed through the defensive line to put the ball down for his second 4 pointer for the year. Gidley converted the try successfully to take the scores to 9 - 6.
Nightingale crossed in the 53rd minute after a cut out pass from Soward saw him plant the ball in the corner. Soward missed the difficult conversion from the sideline and the Dragons once again had some breathing space at 13 - 6.
In the 60th minute came a crucial play when the Dragons sent the ball down to the Knights fullback on the last tackle, only to see Boyd spill the ball in the 3 man tackle as he ran it back. Stanley pounced on the loose ball and dished it out to Frizell who crashed over the line to the right of the posts for the Dragons third try of the afternoon. Soward converted the try to take the scores to 19 - 6 with 2o minutes to go.
The 65th minute saw Bennetts boys on the attack again with Tahu sending McManus down the sideline. Tahu backed up in support to reap his rewards as he put the ball over the line to bring the Knights back into the game. Gidley converted to bring the Knights within 7 points of sending the game into extra time.
The next 15 minutes saw the Knights throw everything but the kitchen sink against the Dragons defensive wall however could not get the home side to crack. The game looked destined to end 1t 19 - 12 before Uate managed to make some ground from within his own half. The Knights went the length of the field and put in a light kick to see Uate score in the corner. Unfortunately Gidley missed the conversion and by then the siren had sounded. The final score was 19 - 16 in favor of the Dragons.
Next week the Dragons travel to the SCG to face the Tigers on Sunday afternoon and the Knights will be at home against the Panthers on Saturday for the early game.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19 Newcastle Knights 16
Venue: Kogarah Oval
Halftime Score: Dragons 9 - 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Mitch Rein
2 points - Dan Hunt
1 point - Trent Merrin
ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (19)
Tries: Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale, Tyson Frizell
Field Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (16)
Tries: Darius Boyd, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
St. George Illawarra Dragons 2-0
St. George Illawarra Dragons 8-0
St. George Illawarra Dragons 9-0
St. George Illawarra Dragons 9-6
St. George Illawarra Dragons 13-6
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19-6
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19-12
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19-16