Tries:Josh Dugan 3, Gerard Beale 2, Peter Mata’utia
Goals:Gareth Widdop 3/6
The St George-Illawrra Dragons ended 2 months of sub-par performances with a commanding 30-0 shut-out of an under-manned Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in front of 12,079 fans at WIN Stadium, Wollongong last night.
Dragons centre Josh Dugan did his Origin chances no harm, with a classy hat-trick while lock Trent Merrin ran for 268 metres.
Already without a host of stars including Todd Carney, Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis, the Sharks didn’t help themselves by dropping the kick off.
The Dragons couldn’t convert that opportunity but in the 13th minute Benji Marshall crabbed across field and found a flying Adam Quinlan who raced clear and threw a great pass to an un-marked Peter Mata’utia to open the scoring.
They extended their lead in the 22nd minute when a sublime short ball by Marshall found Dugan who stretched out to score. Widdop added the extras to make it 10-0.
In the 33rd minute the two combined again for an almost identical try, Widdop unable to convert, and the Dragons led 14-0.
With just 4 minutes left in the half the Dragons struck again when a Marshall pass found Gerard Beale with space out wide and he raced in for the Dragons’ fourth try of the first half. Widdop’s off night with the boot continued but the Dragons enjoyed an 18-0 half time lead.
Despite dominating possession and field position early in the second half, the Sharks couldn’t crack the Dragons. The home side replied with Dugan’s third try in the 60th minute, again supplied by Marshall. The former Kiwi captain’s pin point bomb was claimed by Dugan to extend his side’s lead beyond 20 points. Widdop converted from out wide to make it 24-0.
In the 75th minute Widdop regathered his own kick and somehow got the ball out to Beale to score his second. Widdop’s conversion rounded out a miserable night for the Sharks, while the Dragons found some much-needed form heading into the second half of the season.
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