St George-Illawarra Dragons in front of a packed Easter Sunday crowd of 18,589 at WIN Stadium were too good for the Newcastle Knights 30-12.
Newcastle took advantage of their first penalty in the match with Tautau Moga scoring a try for the visitors. Sadly that was his last involvement in the game as he headed off with a leg problem. Ironically the Dragons scored their first of the afternoon to Tariq Sims off the back of a penalty. Solid defence gave the home side a 20-12 advantage at half-time with tries to Nene McDonald and Euan Aitken. In a tight second half it was some Gareth Widdop magic that led to Leeson Ah Mau scoring the match-breaking try, before a neat kick in goal for McDonald’s second sealed victory.
WONDERFUL WIDDOP SETS SAINTS FOR VICTORY
It was the 51st minute of the game with the Red V 20-12 ahead and on the attack, Widdop banana-kicked the ball towards the western side of the ground on the last tackle and forced Nathan Ross to push the ball dead. Unknown to Ross that there was no chasers coming through. It was a smart move which ended in Leeson Ah Mau crossing from the set after the drop-out. Widdop is in career best form playing confidently alongside Ben Hunt.
JACK DE BELIN BONE CRUNCHING DEFENCE
The Dragons put on an exhibition in defence as they applied pressure on the Knights coming out off their own line. One man who heavily figured in the big hits was Jack de Belin. He forced at least two errors on the Knights defence in the opening forty which gave his side the advantage. Surely an NSW Origin starting position is not far off for the 27 year-old from cosy Cootamundra.
YOUNG GUN FULLBACKS FANTASTIC
Kalyn Ponga and Matt Dufty showed at WIN Stadium what potential they have. Dufty broke through for his first hat-trick last weekend in the Dragons big win over the Titans in Toowoomba. He backed it up with a solid performance. Ponga appears to be a one-in-a-generation player with the way he glides and steps through the defence. Both have huge futures in the game.
KNIGHTS HOLD THEIR HEADS HIGH
It might not have been the result the Knights wanted, but they certainly turned up and challenged the Dragons who are unbeaten in 2018. If there’s something they can work on is keeping the intensity up during the game. At differing stages of the game they switched off and the red-hot Dragons took advantage. Next week is a game where they could need to keep that drive going, when they take on the Broncos at home.
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