The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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In a scoreline that flattered the losing side, St George Illawarra have accounted comfortably for a lacklustre Warriors side in Waikato this evening, executing a solid 30-14 win in front of over 11,000 fans.
Two teams coming off losses last week, started out cautiously as the teams traded sets in the opening fifteen minutes. It the Warriors who struck first after a McInness error. 200 gamer Ben Matulino strode into a gap wider than Sydney Heads for 6-nil.
Dragons started to find their feet through the forwards, who created enough space behind the ruck. They raided down the left side through Tim Lafai and Nene McDonald with the latter finishing off the slick movement with a huge dive.
The visitors added two more efforts to make it 18-6 coming into the break. First Joel Thompson crashed over from a short ball then another raid down the left saw Lafai slice through for the Dragons third to shock the healthy crowd in Waikato.
Warriors would reduce the deficit to eight just before the break. An error from Thompson allowed Bodene, of the Thompson variety to scoop it to Chanze-Nichol-Klokstad to make it 18-10 at the break.
After the break it became a landslide in favour of the away side. By the 50th minute they'd crossed to make it 22-10 through Macdonald in one corner - and ten minutes on they went down the other side with Faifai Loa claiming his second.
A series of missed conversions from Lafai meant the scoreline was only 26-10 by this point, so they kept the pressure on and eventually Taane Milne clocked the Red V to 30 with a try in the 67th minute, the young back celebrating a birthday with a four-pointer.
The rain fell steadily as the game wound down, rookie back Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad claimed a consolation try for the 'home' side, but the Warriors fans who'd made the trek to Hamilton would go home fairly disappointed with another underperforming Warriors side failing to deliver the goods.
They're back in Auckland next weekend to host long-time rivals Brisbane on Saturday night, while the Dragons enjoy the bye ahead of Origin I before hosting the Wests Tigers at ANZ in Round 13.
Warriors 14 - St George Illawarra Dragons 30
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato
Halftime Score: Warriors 10 St George Illawarra Dragons 18
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Timoteo Lafai
2 points - Paul Vaughan
1 points - Nene Macdonald
Tries: Ben Matulino, Charnze Nicoll-klokstad (2)
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (1/3)
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (30)
Tries: Kalifa Faifai Loa (2), Timoteo Lafai, Joel Thompson, Nene Macdonald, Taane Milne
Conversions: Timoteo Lafai (2/6)
Penalty Goals: Timoteo Lafai (1/1)