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2020 NRL Round One, Dragons 14 Tigers 24 – Report

Craig Cauchi reviews the last match of the opening round. Here’s how the game went.

MATCH TIMELINE

Minute Scoring Play Score
1st Try Mikaele Ravalawa (Dragons) Dragons 4-0
2nd Goal Zac Lomax (Dragons) Dragons 6-0
12th Try

David Nofoaluma

(Tigers)

Dragons 6-4
14th Goal

Benji Marshall

(Tigers)

Level

6-6

21st Goal

Benji Marshall

(Tigers)

Tigers

8-6

25th Try

Zac Lomax

(Dragons)

Dragons

10-8

26th Goal

Zac Lomax

(Dragons)

Dragons

12-8

40th Halftime Dragons

12-8

46th Goal

Zac Lomax

(Dragons)

Dragons

14-8

49th Try

Benji Marshall

(Tigers)

Dragons

14-12

50th Goal

Benji Marshall

(Tigers)

Level

14-14

59th Try

Luciano Leilua

(Tigers)

Tigers

18-14

79th Try

David Nofoaluma

(Tigers)

Tigers

22-14

80th Goal

Benji Marshall

(Tigers)

Tigers

24-14

MATCH SUMMARY

1st Half

Much maligned for his ball handling skills in his first season for the Dragons, Mikaele Ravalawa was put immediately under the microscope with Benji Marshall’s first kick. Ravalawa confidently caught the ball before clearing a pathway through the defenders. He kicked the ball ahead, which bounced in his direction but appeared to fail in grounding the ball. But their brilliant start to the season was confirmed when the video ref awarded a penalty try with replays suggesting Corey Thompson denied the flying winger an opportunity. The Dragons should have had two further tries, with Tariq Sims and Brayden Williame failing to ground the ball. After sustaining early pressure, the Tigers made their way to an attacking position. Their forwards came close to bustling over but when an offload went out the back – and the ball found its way to Benji Marshall – a try to David Nofoaluma resulted from the perfectly curbed grubber kick. Some desperate Dragons defence prevented Adam Doueihi scoring but a penalty was awarded for a tackle in the air, which pushed the Tigers into the lead for the first time. It didn’t last long before it was surrendered in the most unfortunate circumstances, with Corey Thompson spilling the ball into Zac Lomax’s grasp, who simply reached out and scored next to the posts. The Tigers ended the half on the attack but couldn’t find the last pass despite the Dragons giving them plenty of opportunities.

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2nd Half

The second half was all about the control of Benji Marshall and – unfortunately – for the Dragons, it was about their missed opportunities. The Dragons kicked off the second half with an early penalty goal to push their lead out to six. And they looked certain to extend their lead, only for Tariq Sims to lose control of the ball with the line begging, after good lead up work from Hunt and Fuimaono. It came back to haunt them, with the Tigers working up field and, off a quick play-the-ball, Benji Marshal stepped his way over. The Tigers momentum up the middle built to more sustained pressure, as Marshall choked the life out of the Dragons with his continued repeat sets. That pressure led to points, with Lomax letting a kick run too long. Former Dragon, Luciano Leilua, swooped in, getting a finger on the ball just in the nick of time. The Tigers regained a slim four point lead and came close several times to extending the lead as they camped themselves in the Dragons half. The same second half fade outs for the Dragons would have been over if not for poor control. First through Paul Vaughan, after a Ben Hunt break, and the second, a poor pass from Tyson Frizell after he made a slashing run down the sideline. With a scrum deep in attacking position – and the game all but over – David Nofualomo weaved his way over for his second. The Tigers finishing 24-14 winners in the last match played in front of fans for now.

GAME HIGHLIGHT

The highlight was the form of Benji Marshall. In the twilight of his career, Marshall took control of the match. Playing without Luke Brooks, Marshall stood up – his fifth tackle options creating tries and applying pressure to the Dragons defence. His try was the start of their momentum and through his marshalling of the troops he was able to dictate where St George Illawarra started their sets. It was a great start to the year for the veteran playmaker.

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SQUADS

Dragons

1. Zac Lomax 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Brayden Wiliame 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Isaac Luke 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Blake Lawrie Bench: 14. Trent Merrin 15. Tyrell Fuimaono 16. Billy Brittain 21. Josh Kerr.

Tigers

1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Robert Jennings 6. Benji Marshall 15. Josh Reynolds 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Billy Walters 10. Alex Twal 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Elijah Taylor Bench: 14. Thomas Mikaele  16. Zane Musgrove 17. Chris Lawrence 18. Michael Chee-Kam

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NRL Match Reports
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