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2022 NRL Round 1, Warriors 16 Dragons 28 – Report

Brad Inger reviews the Round 1 clash between the Warriors and Dragons at Sunshine Coast Stadium; here’s how the match went.

MATCHDAY RESULTS

SCOREBOARD

Warriors 16
Tries: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 19, Wayde Egan 31, Eliesa Katoa 46
Goals: Shaun Johnson 32, 46,

Dragons 28
Tries: Mikaele Ravalawa 6, 57, 66, Jack Bird 14, Moses Mbye 74
Goals: Zac Lomax 7, 16, 40, 76

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

Shaun Johnson’s much talked about return to the Warriors started with promise for the New Zealand side. Marching up the field with relative ease on the back of a penalty. A repeat set looked to have the Dragons under pressure, but a dropped ball let them off the hook. St George showed how dangerous they could be with the ball in hand with their set, but Viliame Vailea intercepted a forced pass to give the home side back the ball. The home side surged up the field again with some strong runs from their pack; a Johnson grubber forced a repeat set; however, a forward pass from Chanel Harris-Tavita once again allowed Dragons fans to breathe a sigh of relief. A penalty against Euan Aitken and a fantastic kick from Ben Hunt saw the visitors with a fresh set deep in Warriors territory and wasted little time drifting from side to side, sending Mikaele Ravalawa over in the corner. Both sides traded sets for a spell, with the Warriors letting themselves down with another forward pass and a handful of knock-ons, including one from Eliesa Katoa after a terrible dropout attempt by Tyrell Sloane. An Addin Fonua-Blake knock-on handed the Dragons the ball in a favourable position once again, and Jack Bird bashed his way through for the second try of the afternoon. With their backs against the wall, the Warriors needed to get themselves back into the contest, and they were helped after the Dragons were penalized for being offside; the New Zealand side had several attempts on St George’s try-line but couldn’t break through until a Johnson cut out pass saw Dallin Watene-Zeleaniak with the ball on the edge, running out of space he put through a grubber that bounced away from defenders allowing him to dive on it for the Warriors first try of the season. Energized from that try, the Warriors looked like a new team with Fonua-Blake rampaging halfway up the field right from the kick restart; however, they could not convert it into points with the Dragons earning a penalty after Vailea hit Cody Ramsey before he could defuse a Johnson bomb. The teams went through sets without gaining the upper hand until Johnson inside ball to Josh Curran saw the lock break the line and sprint up the field before sending Wayde Egan over to score. It looked like that was going to be the last scoring play of the half until a penalty against Katoa allowed the Dragons to kick a penalty to go into the break with a 14-10 lead.

HALF-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 14 New Zealand Warriors 10

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2nd Half

The Warriors started the second half with the same intensity they ended the first with Curran chasing a Ben Hunt deflected kick to get the Warriors a full set in the Dragons RedZone, but the Red V’s defence was able to hold the home side out. The Dragons got out of danger with a strong set before the Warriors heaped the pressure on when Johnson kicked a 40/20; Johnson was involved again moments later, putting Katoa through a hole to score the first try of the second half. The Dragons started to swing momentum back in their favour after the Warriors made some handling errors and were next on the scoreboard when Ravalawa crashed over in the corner. Ravalawa went from hero to villain on the next play, dropping the kick restart; however, the Warriors continued to struggle to break through their goal-line defence before making another unforced error. St George screamed up the field and forced the New Zealand side to try and make it out of their half the hard way, and an early kick by Johnson did not work, piling more pressure on the home side as Ravalawa steamrolled down the edge for a hat trick. The Warriors threw more chances away with poor handling errors, and their defence started to fall away, exposing large gaps, which the Dragons took full advantage of, rolling up the field before Moses Mbye sniped out of dummy-half to score the Dragon’s fifth try. The final stages of the game offer little to mention, with the New Zealand side trying to end on a positive note; however, it wasnt to be as the Dragons kept the pressure on and walked away with a well deserved 28-16 victory.

FULL-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 28 New Zealand Warriors 16

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 pts – Mikaele Ravalawa (Dragons), 2 pts – Josh Curran (Warriors), 1 pt – Zac Lomax (Dragons)

Warriors: 1. Chanel Harris-Tavita 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Rocco Berry 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Euan Aitken 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh Curran 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila 16. Aaron Pene 17. Bayley Sironen 18. Jack Murchie

Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Aaron Woods 11. Jack Bird 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack De Belin 14. Moses Mbye 15. Francis Molo 16. Josh Kerr 17. Jack Gosiewski 18. Jackson Ford

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