St. George Illawarra Dragons have convincingly won against the North Queensland Cowboys 24-10 in Townsville.
Coming off two consecutive losses, the Dragons found the energy to run away early against a struggling Cowboys side. North Queensland through Johnathan Thurston opted to score by taking penalty conversions after St. George’s first try to make scores 6-4 to the visitors. After a sin-bin to Jack de Belin, a try came from Gavin Cooper which had Cowboys ahead 10-6 in the 22nd minute. Matt Dufty was able to exploit a gap on the oppositions right edge and beat the scramble defence to score just before another try went to Tariq Sims leading into the half 18-10. The second half only produced one try to debutant Jordan Pereira and had Dragons bounce back to winning ways with a 24-10 victory away from home.
DRAGONS RECLAIM FIRST
After a disappointing month of rugby league from St. George, they have reclaimed top spot after beating the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday night. It was an electric start from the visitors and from their fullback Dufty finding support outside to score within 2 minutes. A nervous period then followed when lock forward Jack de Belin went to the bin for holding in a tackle with prior warning already given. Dragons were able to hold on after a try conceded in the time with a man down to pile on two quick tries before the half. A worrying two-game losing streak was snapped with Dragons defensively holding on to score the only try to win the second half and jump back to first place for the time being with South Sydney losing earlier and Storm to still play.
Throughout this fixture, there were many negative plays with poor finishes to sets being a focal point of both sides game. Each team only completed 70% of their sets in attack however the Cowboys had more opportunities and only finishing off 28/40 of those in what was a frustrating showing in front of a home crowd once again.
DUFTY CUTS COWBOYS
Matt Dufty was at his elusive best in this crucial match for his team to kickstart back into winning ways. The fullback had a hand in many of the plays Dragons had made, creating a try within the opening minutes for Jason Nightingale to score through a misjudgement in defence by the home side. In the 32nd minute, Dufty took advantage of a gaping hole from a shift play to cut through the Cowboys defence and use his incredible foot speed to breakaway to score a momentum-changing try after trailing. St. George’s number one produced 2 linebreaks, 8 tackle breaks along with a try and try assist to finish off a stellar performance by the fullback.
Some records for both sides have been broken during this match both good and bad. The Dragons won their first game in Townsville since 2005 while disappointment for Cowboys continues with the side having only won 2 out of 11 games against current top 8 sides. North Queensland also recorded their worst record at home in a decade with a losing streak of five.
Goals: Thurston 3/3
Tries: Nightingale, Dufty, Sims, Pereira
Goals: Widdop 4/4
Cowboys: 18 Jake Clifford, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Enari Tuala, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Justin O’Neill, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 John Asiata, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Shaun Fensom, 17 Corey Jensen, 20 Mitchell Dunn
Dragons: 1 Matt Dufty, 21 Jordan Pereira, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan,17 Luciano Leilua, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack de Belin
Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 19 Blake Lawrie