Gareth Widdop was the star again today at ANZ Stadium with the St. George Illawarra Dragons comfortably accounting for a surprisingly poor Wests Tigers 28-12 in front of 22,000 fans.
The Dragons produced an outstanding first half, overcoming some early pressure from the Tigers to score four unanswered tries in the first stanza. It all began with Gareth Widdop scoring his side's first off a Brett Morris break and in-field kick. The Red V boys backed this up with back-to-back tries through Gerard Beale and a second for Widdop.
A moment of controversy earned the ire of the Tigers' home fans late in the half when Tim Simona appeared to have scored - the grounding in question and ultimately ruled he didn't have downward pressure on it. The Dragons subsequently went up the other end and scored in the shadows of halftime through a powerful effort to Jason Nightingale. The halftime lead was 22-0 to the Dragons and the home side looked listless.
Quickfire tries to the Tigers opened the second half and seemed to have shifted the momentum of the game with both converted and the Dragons looking to tire in defence - but their own tired legs and simple errors coming out of their own end continued to cruel the hosts as they did in the first half. A 58th minute penalty goal to Widdop was helped along in the 68th minute with a try to Brett Morris which pushed the Dragons back out to a 28-12 lead which they maintained through to fulltime.
Much of the focus both before and after tonight's match was on Tigers' coach Mick Potter and captain Robbie Farah - the former deflecting reports the club's board were keen to sack him while the latter was forced to defend himself from accusations he was leading a player revolt against Potter. The pair presented a united front at the post-match press conference, where Farah offered his full support to the coach before Potter himself asked the gathered media to focus back on the game or they'd vacate their seats and end the presser.
Potter or no Potter, the Tigers have an important clash with Melbourne next Monday night at Campbelltown where they'll honour retired player Simon Dwyer, while the Dragons hit Allianz Stadium on Saturday night in their Iron Man Marvel jersey to face the 'Captain America' Roosters.