St George Illawarra Dragons 20
Tries:Nightingale, Cooper, Dugan
New Zealand Warriors 10
The St George Illawarra Dragons put a dramatic week behind them to beat the New Zealand Warriors 20-10 at WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah this afternoon in front of 10,559 fans. Dragons head coach Steve Price brought in Nathan Green to replace Dylan Farrell in the centres, but it was fullback Josh Dugan who starred, scoring the match winning try and causing havoc for the Warriors defence all afternoon.
Two late tries in the first half kept the Dragons in control, including a spectacular finish by winger Jason Nightingale, while Sam Tomkins and Manu Vatuvei notched second-half tries for the Warriors.
A tight opening 20 minutes saw both sides locked up at 0-all until a Gareth Widdop penalty goal nudged the Dragons in front after 23 minutes.
That looked like being the only points of the first half until a crazy final ten minutes saw the Dragons score two quick tries. In the 34th minute Nightingale went vertical to score in the corner, not converted by Widdop to make it 6-0. Then on the stroke of half time, a Mitch Rein flat pass from dummy half found a rampaging Mike Cooper who brushed aside some flimsy Warriors defence to score his first try in the NRL. Widdop converted and the Dragons led 12-0 at half time.
A beautiful individual try to Warriors fullback Sam Tonkins, converted by Shaun Johnson, reduced the margin to six points after 51 minutes. Tomkins showed great speed and agility, stepping off his left foot and slicing through the Dragons’ defence. The former Wigan Warriors custodian appears to be finding his feet in the NRL after a slow start to the season, and he needs more support from his team mates.
Another Widdop penalty goal pushed the margin out to eight points before a Manu Vatuvei bust down the left touchline saw the giant winger crash over in the corner. Johnson couldn’t add the extras so it was 14-10 with 17 minutes left.
With the game in the balance some magic football between Rein and Josh Dugan sealed the match for the Dragons. Michael Witt put a little kick in, Rein chased the ball and put in a grubber that Dugan somehow won the race for to score a brilliant try. Widdop’s conversion made it 20-10 and the Dragons hung on to record their first victory since round three.
The Dragons were impressive in the ten point win and stretched their unbeaten run against the Warriors to ten matches. Michael Witt had another quiet game at half back and Green offered little at cente, but the win halts a three-game losing streak and puts them back inside the top eight. The Warriors, again, were very patchy, missing some golden opportunities and giving away silly penalties. With NSW hooker Robbie Farah out for several weeks with an elbow injury, Rein had a very impressive game and if Farah were to be ruled out of game 1 on May 25, Rein could fill the void, with a solid all-round game and he would combine well with Dugan, who appears certain to be the NSW fullback.