St George-Illawarra Dragons survived a late scare to continue their unbeaten run in 2018, recording a 16-12 victory over South Sydney Rabbitohs at Jubilee Oval.
In a physical encounter, it took eighteen minutes for the Dragons to cross through Euan Aitken who found the smallest of gaps in the Rabbitohs defence to cross for the opening try. The Dragons eight point advantage could have been more had it not been for a controversial ‘no try’ on Nene McDonald during the opening forty minutes. When Matt Dufty scored against the run of play just three minutes into the second half, the chances of South Sydney coming back were diminishing. However, as they showed a week early against the Bulldogs, South Sydney staged a comeback. The introduction of Adam Doueihi sparked the visitors into action with Cody Walker and Greg Inglis scoring within a two minute period to reduce the gap to four. Time ran out on the clock and the Dragons recorded their fifth win of 2018.
‘NO TRY CONTROVERSY’
The ‘no try’ to Nene McDonald in the first half has raised eyebrows. Earlier this season Moses Mbye was awarded a try for the Bulldogs against Penrith where a Bulldogs played made contact with James Maloney. This time is was Adam Reynolds who was bumped by a Dragons runner. Neither Maloney or Reynolds went to the ground after the contact. NRL’s Bunker need to have cleared guidelines on what is, and what isn’t considered impeding the defence.
DID REYNOLDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
One game back from injury, Adam Reynolds impact appeared minimal. His kicking game was well received but his general play wasn’t flash and this was highlighted in the South Sydney attacking game, where set plays were ineffective and solo runs were successful. Adam Doueihi’s impact in the final ten minutes might have coach Anthony Seibold thinking whether he needs to give his rookie more game time.
It was an emotional night for Dragons veteran Jason Nightingale who celebrated his 250th appearance in the NRL. It was a solid performance from the winger as his side continued their dream start to the season. Hopefully the club can find some cash to keep Nightingale for one more season provided Paul McGregor is happy to give the likes of Jai Field and Zac Lomax one more season in the second-tier competition.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Greg Inglis for years has been the best centre in our game. Euan Aitken owned his battle with GI for the majority of proceedings at Jubilee Oval. This was highlighted by the pace to stand up Inglis in a short burst to the line to score the opening try. There’s a lot of names being put forward as ‘bolters’ for the New South Wales Origin side. Maybe Aitken is the next name tossed up in the media?
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“We defended our line courageously set after set after set so to come away with a win it’s outstanding. It’s not easy to win games of footy consecutively.” – Paul McGregor (SMH)
“I’m not sure. I was happy with the call. So I’ll say it’s the right call.” – Anthony Seibold on no try call to Nene McDonald (News Ltd)
ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 16
Tries: Euan Aitken, Matt Dufty
Goals: Gareth Widdop 4
Drop Goals: n/a
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 12
Tries: Cody Walker, Greg Inglis
Goals: Adam Reynolds, Adam Doueihi
Drop Goals: n/a
Dragons: 1 Matthew Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 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, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin. Interchange: 14 Luciano Leilua, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 18 Jeremy Latimore
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Dane Gagai, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Hymel Hunt, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 16 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Mark Nicholls, 17 Tevita Tatola, 19 Jason Clark