The St George Illawarra Dragons opened 2014 with a thumping 44-24 win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium. Despite trailing 18-6 early in the match, the Dragons found their groove, piling on seven tries, with second rower Tyson Frizell grabbing a double and five eighth Gareth Widdop kicking eight goals from as many attempts in a win that showed how dangerous the Dragons can be.
The Tigers dominated the opening twenty minutes of the match, and opened the scoring with a converted try to Pat Richards in the 6th minute. They added their second try when James Tedesco pounced on a Brett Morris error and sliced through the defence for a long-range try. Richards added the extras to make it 12-0 after ten minutes.
Frizell got the Dragons on the board in the 15th minute when he stampeded through the Tigers’ defence from close range and slammed the ball down. Widdop added the extras and the Dragons were back in it at 12-6. The Tigers extended their lead when skipper Robbie Farah dived over from dummy half, getting a lucky call to go his sides’ way, with replays proving inconclusive as to whether or not he grounded the ball. Richards’ conversion gave his side a handy 18-6 lead after twenty minutes.
With the game threatening to turn sour for the Dragons, they clicked into gear. Widdop found a charging Ben Creagh out wide to score a nice try,converted by Widdop to bring it back to 18-12.The Dragons weren’t finished yet and added a thirty-third minute try to centre Gerard Beale, converted by Widdop to tie it up at 18-all before a Widdop penalty goal on the stroke of half time gave the Dragons the lead, 20-18.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the 43rd minute when halfback Michael Witt trailed Widdop down the right edge and collected Widdop’s sublime offload to score out wide. Widdop added the extras to make it 26-18. The Tigers stayed alive in the see-sawing match when Martin Taupau muscled his way over in the 48th minute, converted by Richards to make it 26-24.
With the game in the balance, Widdop showed his class, turning the ball inside for a rampaging Frizell to grab his second try. Widdop converted to extend the Dragons lead, 32-24. A Mitch Rein try from dummy half with fifteen minutes left kept the Tigers at bay, Widdop’s seventh conversion of the day made it 38-24.
A 79th minute converted try to Adam Quinlan iced the game for the Dragons who scored over 40 points in a game for the first time since round 18, 2009.
St George Illawarra Dragons 44 (Frizell 2, Beale, Witt, Creagh, Quinlan, Rein tries; Widdop 8 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 24 (Richards, Farah, Tedesco, Tapau tries; Richards 4 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 19,860.