2018 PREVIEW 🔍 Perennial underachievers? Our fifteenth preview is here. Andrew Ferguson assesses whe...
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The St George Illawarra have ensured they stay in the NRL top 8 for another week after a 52-22 demolition of an under-strength Manly Sea Eagles in front of just under 17,000 fans at WIN Stadium.
The opening 40 minutes kept the Dragons top 8 spot warm as they ran in 5 tries throughout the first half with an exquisite show right across the park from the home side. The opening points took just 9 minutes to come when Jason Nightingale was the recipient of a massive lack of communication from three Manly players meant the Dragons veteran took one of his easiest catches to score.
The Dragons second try came off another kick and this time it was Tim Lafai who was in the right spot for the bounce of the ball when it eluded every player in the contest and it took a juggle from Lafai to control it but he did and scored the try.
The bad day for Daly Cherry-Evans continued when his short ball found Gareth Widdop on the chest and it was shut the gate time for the Dragons with Widdop bolting away for an intercept effort to push the score to 18-0. The Dragons put two more first half tries on before the break when Euan Aitken was on the end of a pinpoint kick from Gareth Widdop meanwhile the final try of the half was set up again by Gareth Widdop when he set up for a kick but found Jacob Host with a short ball to score.
The second half started with a big momentum shift with Manly scoring inside the first couple of minutes when Dylan Walker got his way over the line to score.
Things then looked to turn in favour of the home side again when Darcy Lussick was sent to the sin bin by Ashley Klein for throwing punches in a dust up where the incident was put on report with allegations of headbutts and elbows from either side.
However, the period of time where the Dragons had the extra man favoured the visitors with three tries put on by Manly whilst Lussick was in the sin bin. The first of the three came when Joey Lussick took advantage of a huge gap from dummy half. Manly then hit back again through Jake Trbojevic who stormed over which was quickly followed by Akuila Uate flying high and scoring which closed the gap to just 8 points.
The final 20 minutes was all the Dragons running in four tries including two set up by the debutant Matt Dufty, the first of which came to Paul Vaughan who charged over with defenders all over him, the second to Jason Nightingale who just had to get to the inside of the Manly defenders to score. Euan Aitken scored another flashy try with just over ten minutes to go getting through to chase down an infield kick which he did despite injuring himself whilst scoring.
The game finished with Matt Dufty getting a try of his own when he beat Tom Trbojevic way too easily with good speed from the 30m and got through to score and Gareth Widdop put his seventh conversion over sealing a 52-22 victory. Next week the Dragons have the road trip up to Newcastle on Saturday afternoon meanwhile it gets harder for Manly with a trip to Melbourne to take on the Storm next Sunday afternoon
St George Illawarra Dragons 52 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22
Venue: WIN Stadium
Halftime Score: St George Illawarra Dragons 30 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Matthew Dufty
2 points - Gareth Widdop
1 points - Jack de Belin
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (52)
Tries: Jason Nightingale (2), Gareth Widdop, Timoteo Lafai, Euan Aitken (2), Jacob Host, Paul Vaughan, Matthew Dufty
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (8/9)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (22)
Tries: Dylan Walker, Joey Lussick, Jake Trbojevic, Akuila Uate
Conversions: Dylan Walker (1/1), Daly Cherry-Evans (1/1), Jackson Hastings (1/2)