St. George Illawarra Dragons win a scrappy match against the Newcastle Knights 24-14 at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Errors and knock-ons riddled the opening 10 minutes with a clever forced dropout by Knights resulting in a try to Ken Sio a minute later to lead 4-2. Pressure on the Dragons goal line from Mitchell Pearce forced multiple sets for Knights, Pearce set up their second try from a bomb kick to the in goal and Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored going into halftime 10-2. St. George came out of the break with more precision in attack and intent in defence, with a try and four-pointer saved just after the game in the balance at 10-8 with 20 minutes left. Knights chances slipped with Dragons capitalising on the opportunities to score applying three tough late tries to win 24-14.
DRAGONS SCRAPE HOME
Having only won once in their last five games St. George was looking out on their feet down 10-2 at the halftime break. The Dragons played more clinical while being direct with their running to open up their scoring in the 45th minute to Jeremy Latimore. More time in defence for the away side came but the resilence on their line paid off with their second try to Nene Macdonald through a line break, allowing them then lead by 4 points. Desperation to find a crucial win before finals the Dragons produced two more tries to finish their regular season with a 24-14 win and potentially host their first finals match.
Dragons down by two tries and having spoiled up to three tries themselves it was looking like another dower loss to head into the finals. Coming out of the sheds at halftime the visitors readjusted their urgency in both attack and defence to pile on two early four pointers, Knights returned serve to nearly score but resilient goal line defending stopped the play. Dragons leading into the finals will now draw some needed confidence that they were able to turn around their fortunes to put on 4 tries in the second half to secure a crucial victory.
NEWCASTLE RUE OPPORTUNITIES
Knights on old boys day at Newcastle were looking impressive during the opening half with the majority of the possession leading 10-2. Their opponents once applying pressure were able to score early in the second half and the home side continued to fumble their chances in attack with Dragons coming from behind. Though errors were close with a 12-10 count to the Knights their opportunities in the St. George red zone went begging and was ultimately what stopped them from coming over the top to win.
ST. GEORGE FINALS BOOST
The red v after a terrible back end of their regular season will get a massive boost after closing with a 10 point win against the Knights. A chance of finishing 8th and meeting a team higher away from their own home ground or hosting their first finals match, they handled the occasion holding their nerve to win. The likely finishing position for the Dragons heading into finals will be at 6th position to host either Broncos or the Warriors.
Tries: Sio (2), Kenny-Dowall
Goals: Meaney 1/3
Tries: Latimore, Macdonald, Dufty, Pereira
Goals: Lomax 4/6
Knights: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Ken Sio 3. Sione Mata’utia 4. Cory Denniss 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Jack Cogger 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Herman Ese’ese 9. Danny Levi 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Jamie Buhrer 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange: 14. Tom Starling 15. Chris Heighington 17. Josh King 18. JJ Felise
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Zac Lomax 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jordan Pereira 6. Kurt Mann 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack de Belin
Interchange: 14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Jai Field 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Luciano Leilua