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The St George Illawarra Dragons have run out 22-4 winners over the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks in the local derby at Cronulla's Toyota Stadium today in front of over 16,000 fans.
The score line might suggest a comprehensive victory, but it was a struggle up until the 72nd minute when Kyle Stanley's second try sealed the game for the Dragons.
It was a match that never reached any great heights in terms of attacking football, but a tight and willing affair, played before a vocal home crowd, provided an absorbing contest. The Dragons won the game on the back of their near-impenetrable defence, repeatedly turning the Sharks away and then taking their attacking opportunities when they came.
The Sharks easily had the best of the first half, aided by a lopsided penalty count, but the Dragons defence turned them away time and time again.
The Dragons really only had one attacking set in the first half and they took it with their usual efficiency, Brett Morris standing in a tackle of three Sharks and offloading to Matt Cooper's replacement, Kyle Stanley, to score in the corner. Soward missed the conversion but added a long-range penalty goal five minutes later when Snowden hit him late with an ugly-looking challenge after a kick.
The rest of the half was almost exclusively played in the Dragons half with the Cronulla side throwing everything at the Dragons, but the Dragons famous defence holding firm time and time again. The Sharks finally came up with a result in the 26th minute, with promising young fullback Nathan Gardner jinking and drawing in several players to put Isaac Gordon over in the corner. Gardner failed to convert.
The Dragons started the second half the stronger, Brett Morris swooping on a loose ball after a Jamie Soward chip kick, despite replays showing there may have been a knock on when Ben Creagh contested the ball. Most of the rest of the half was a real arm wrestle, the Dragons continuing to defend well against an increasingly desperate Sharks outfit before two late Dragons tries sealed the victory.
The Sharks gave their all, but a lack of finishing in attack let them down as did a controversial decision not to go to the video referee when Paul Gallen reached out from short range midway through the second half, replays suggesting he got the ball on the line.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4 were defeated by St George Illawarra Dragons 22
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 15 - Sunday June 20, 2010 2:00pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referee: Tony Archer and Alan Shortall
Video Referee: Bill Harrigan
Touch Judges: David Abood and Gavin Reynolds
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4 St George Illawarra Dragons 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Jamie Soward (2 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - Brett Morris (1 Try)
1 Point - Neville Costigan
CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (4)
Tries: Isaac Gordon
Conversions: Nathan Gardner (0/1)
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (22)
Tries: Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale, Kyle Stanley (2)
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/4)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 1 min: Cronulla get us underway, a fine day in Sydney.
4 min: Both teams seem up for this one, plenty of feeling. Sharks have a set in good attacking position after a penalty but Snowden spills the ball in a heavy tackle.
7 min: Sharks have another set in good position after a penalty but the Dragons defence is as firm as usual.
10 min: Dragons get their first penalty of the game, Snowden is in everything but he works Boyd a little too much in a tackle.
13 min: TRY
Stanley scores after a sharp backline move
St George Illawarra Dragons 4-0
16 min: PENALTY GOAL
Soward slots a penalty after he is hit after kicking by Snowden . Looked ugly, Snowden could miss a few games for that.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
19 min: Sharks have another set in good position, but the Dragons defence is impregnable and frustrating them
21 min: Sharks come close after running it on the last but the Dragons shut them down again.
23 min: Sharks will get another set in prime position after Emmett spills the ball cold meters out from his own line. Cronulla are dominating posession but have nothing to show for it.
26 min: TRY
Cronulla finally crack the Dragons, some enterprising play from young Gardner puts his winger over untouched. Gardner fails to convert.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-4
30 min: Cronulla go close again, creating a good opportunity but the last pass just sailing into touch.
33 min: Cronulla go close yet again, they are really having all the ball and would probably be up by several tries against most other teams.
37 min: Same story here, Cronulla have had a mountain of ball in the Dragons twenty but are becoming obviously frustrated by the Dragons defence.
40 min: Half time here in Cronulla. The Sharks have really dominated possession and field position but are behind on the scoreboard. The question is will the Dragons run out of petrol in the second half?
41 min: Back underway here in Cronulla
43 min: The Dragons will have the first opportunity to attack after Beau Scott throws a flying Nathan Gardner into touch on a kick return.
45 min: TRY
The Dragons have started the stronger, controversial try to Morris after he picks up the scraps from a nice Soward chip, replays suggesting there may have been a Dragons knock on in the lead up.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-4
50 min: Dragons have found another gear, making easy meters and looking sharp, really don't look like a team who defended most of the first half.
55 min: A real arm wrestle here as the Sharks try to get back into it. The punishing Dragons defence leads to Paul Gallen putting in a rushed grubber with the Sharks in good position.
59 min: Very intense match here, the Sharks throw absolutely everything at the Dragons in a desperate attacking set but the Dragons just keep turning up, seems to be 16 Dragons players out there!
63 min: Barrett releases Collis down the touchline but the pass clearly floated forward.
66 min: Sharks fans booing justifiably as the officials stop the game for an injury with the Sharks full of attacking momentum.
68 min: Crowd really giving to the officials here as the Dragons go on the attack after what looked like a clear strip.
70 min: Sharks have a good chance to make a great finish with Nightingale spilling a bomb on his own tryline.
71 min: This match has had it all, the refs don't go to the video but replays suggest Gallen got the ball onto the line from dummy half.
72 min: TRY
Dragons have sealed it here, Stanley gets a double after pouncing on a clever last-tackle grubber from Darius Boyd.
St George Illawarra Dragons 18-4
74 min: Sharks regather the short kick off but then Ferguson spills the ball
76 min: Going to the vidoe ref after Nightingale reaches out, but looks a possible double movement.
77 min: TRY
Vido ref rules momentum wasn't stopped, a nice run from Nightingale after good leadup from Costigan.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22-4
80 min: Its all over here, Dragons win 22-4