A Gareth Widdop masterclass has steered the St. George Illawarra Dragons to a commanding 44-24 victory over the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium this afternoon in front of 19,860 fans.
It wasn't all roses early for the "hosts" in the Dragons - the Tigers raced to a 12-0 lead in as many minutes - Pat Richards and James Tedesco finding yawning gaps in the Saints' defensive line. They quickly turned things around though, and with their first foray into Tigers territory, the Dragons crossed through Tyson Frizell.
A questionable Robbie Farah try had the Tigers back to twelve-point leaders at the 21-minute mark - Farah claimed to ground the ball, referee Ashley Klein agreed and sent it upstairs to the video referees, but they were unable to help the Dragons' protests, with no suitable evidence available to overturn the seemingly incorrect initial call.
The Dragons were able to hit back twice more before halftime to level scores at 18-all after 39 minutes, before a Gareth Widdop penalty goal sent the Tigers two points in arrears going to the break.
The big talking points from the first half weren't all the points - but injuries. Liam Fulton was concussed after colliding with the knee of teammate & fullback James Tedesco and had to be taken from the field via medicab. Club officials report he's since been up and about, but will continue to be monitored. For the Dragons, Jack de Belin went off early with a corked thigh.
Kickoff in the second half saw the Dragons pick up where they left off, with Michael Witt running off a Gareth Widdop break to score after 44 minutes. The Tigers struck back to reduce the margin to two through Martin Taupau - although similar questions to the Farah try in the first half were raised after no video proof was available to overturn Klein ruling a try to the Tigers.
It mattered little in the end for the Dragons, who went on to dominate the final twenty minutes. Tyson Frizell doubled his try tally in the 60th minute before Mitch Rein (65th) and Adam Quinlan (78th) put the result to bed and saw the Dragons march past forty points for the first time since 2009.
Apart from Fulton and de Belin, there are also concerns for St. George Illawarra half Michael Witt, who came from the field with a dislocated shoulder in the final ten minutes. He and de Belin will be assessed thoroughly before the Dragons trek to Auckland for an Eden Park showdown with the Warriors on Saturday, while the Tigers will be hoping Liam Fulton is fit for their clash next Sunday against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium.