Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
5 hours ago
St George Illawarra Dragons 34 v North Queensland Cowboys 14
at WIN Stadium
Referees: Paul Simpkins
The St George Illawarra Dragons have won their sixth consecutive victory tonight at WIN stadium by defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 34-14. The Dragons were dominant in most aspects of the game tonight, with great performances from fullback Ben Hornby, centre Matt Cooper and halves pairing Matthew Head and Mark Gasnier.
The Dragons started the game off in great fashion with a length of the field try rewarded to New South Wales centre Mark Gasnier. A second try was not too far away with Colin Best scoring out wide to make the score line a 10-0 lead to the home team. The Cowboys hit back in superb fashion with quick back-to-back tries to winger Matt Sing and centre Josh Hannay. Both sides had more chances to post points in the first half; however, the hands of both teams let them down on numerous occasions.
The Cowboys started in a positive fashion in the second half with them leveling the score line at 10-10 after Thurston converted a penalty opportunity. Soon after that, the Dragons put more points on the board through international Matt Cooper to put the home team up by a converted try. Thurston put up a lovely kick for the Cowboys next try to Neil Sweeney who scored out wide but unfortunately, for the Cowboys Jonathon Thurston was unable to convert the extras. The Dragons then put the finishing touches on the struggling Cowboys with a try to hooker Aaron Gorrell, and a second try to Matt Cooper. Cooper wasn?t finished there however, with the strong centre scoring his third try in the 80th minute of the contest.
The Dragons have now won six on the trot and have a bye next weekend. They are one of the form teams of the competition and with still some big stars to come back into the team are looking like true premiership contenders for 2006. For the Cowboys, they look like they are getting closer to a win but it has to be a huge concern for all fans that they have now lost 8 out of their last 9 games. They take on the Rabbitohs next week without their Origin stars next week and that is a must win game for the North Queensland team.
St George Illawarra Dragons: 34
Tries: Colin Best, Matt Cooper(3), Mark Gasnier, Aaron Gorrell
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 5/7
North Queensland Cowboys: 14
Tries: Josh Hannay, Matt Sing, Neil Sweeney
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 1/4
Halftime: Dragons 10-8
By the Clock:
Welcome to Win Stadium for this contest between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys. The Dragons have been on fire latley, winning 5 games on the trot. Whilst the Cowboys have struggled in recent times, losing 7 of their last 8 games. Can the Cowboys turn their luck around? Or will the Dragons continue their great form of recent times?
Dragons have lost Clint Greenshields for tonights contest. Hornby goes to fullback, Gasnier to five eight and Millard into the centres. Corey Payne comes onto the bench and Michael Henderson comes off the bench.
Cowboys are as per program.
Kick off about to get under way here at Win Stadium.
0 min: NEWS Kick off here at Win Stadium. Cowboys kick us off for Round 16 action!
4 min: NEWS Carl Webb drops the ball close to the line. Cowboys looking strong in the early going of the contest.
6 min: NEWS Justin Smith makes a break down the short side. From the following play a bomb goes up but is well taken from winger Colin Best.
7 min: NEWS Norton penalised for playing the ball incorrectly. Lets the pressure off the Dragons. Some encouraging signs for the Cowboys in the early going here at Win Stadium.
10 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Great try from Mark Gasnier! Matty Bowen puts in a nice kick in the in goal and Best some how gets it back in the field off play. From the next play Hornby finds open room down the blind side then finds a speeding Mark Gasnier who out paces Thurston to score out wide.
The Kick from Gorrell is waved away.
14 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
A nightmare bounce from a Matty Head kick for winger Neil Sweeney sees Colin Best take advantage and score in the same corner as Gasnier did.
Gorrell nails the kick from the sideline.
15 min: NEWS Thurston seems to be struggling with a knee injury. He is playing on but it has to be some sort of concern to the Cowboys and to the Queensland side.
21 min: NEWS Good kick from Thurston sees the Cowboys get a repeat set. The Dragons defence seems to be holding the Cowboys out with ease at the moment.
22 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - Matt Sing claiming a try. Video Ref looking at the grounding and the onside. All looks good for the Cowboys, but you never know with Video Refs.
22 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Thurston puts in a grubber kick that rebounds of a Dragons player that Matt Sing pounces on and scores out wide.
Thurston misses the conversion from the touch line.
24 min: NEWS Ben Creagh is put on report for a high shot on Rod Jensen.
25 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Josh Hannay scores through some poor defence from the Dragons. Some good passing from Thurston and Bowen gives Hannay some room who beats 3 defenders to score.
Thurston misses the conversion.
27 min: NEWS Just when the Cowboys hit some momentum the cough the ball up through Paul Bowman in their own 20m zone. Dragons on the attack.
32 min: NEWS Fumbles galore here at the moment. Ben Creagh just loses the ball and the Cowboys receive a penalty which gives them good field position.
33 min: NEWS O'Donnell threatens to score out wide but numbers come into the tackle and they drive the Australian back rower into the sideline.
38 min: NEWS A great attacking raid by the Dragons! Bickerstaff makes a break up the middle then from the following play Gasnier finds Best but Best puts his foot on the touch line and the Cowboys survive for the time being. Halftime nearly upon us.
40 min: NEWS The Cowboys have one last chance to post points on but the Dragons defence holds on for the time being.
HALFTIME here at WIN stadium!
Some good football shown by both teams in the first 40 minutes. Young Cowboys prop Ray Cashmere was great early on, getting some good offloads away. For the Dragons, Gasnier always is looking dangerous with the ball in his hand and Colin Best has made some cruical plays in the match. The game looks evenly poised at the moment with both teams looking like they could take this game out which will make for an entertaining second half here at WIN stadium.
40 min: NEWS Second half Underway!
43 min: NEWS The Dragons get tackled on last tackle and hand the ball over. Poor play from the Dragons.
44 min: PENALTY GOAL North Queensland Cowboys
Norton catches Dean Young offside from Marker and gets a penalty right in front. Thurston converts the penalty attempt from right in front.
48 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Best makes a break down the middle of the field that gets the Dragons in good field position. From the next play Hornby and Head combine to put Cooper down the flank who scores a great try.
Gorrell converts the try, very similar to his match winning kick last week at Suncorp Stadium.
53 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - A possible freak of a try to Thurston. Hornby lets a bomb bounce and the ball looks like it is going touch in goal however the ball takes a awkward boune and Thurston grounds the ball. Unfortunately, his foot was in touch while he put the ball down. No Try - 20m restart to the home team.
59 min: NEWS The Cowboys try a chip kick but it is well gathered from Colin Best. The Cowboys need to be the next team to score.
61 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
A pin point kick from Jonathon Thurston finds an un-marked Neil Sweeney on the Wing who takes the kick and scores the try. Not enough pressure from the Dragons on that occasion.
Thurston misses the conversion.
67 min: NEWS A good movement from the Cowboys ends in disaster with Josh Hannay's pass not finding the mark and the ball going into touch.
70 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Gorrell claims possible the match winner after Norton fumbles the kick in goal and Gorrell pounces on the ball to score the try.
Gorrell converts his own try.
71 min: NEWS The restart from the Cowboys sails out on the full. Things falling apart for the Cowboys.
73 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - Possible second try for Matt Cooper. Head puts in a kick that is well chased from Cooper who may of scored. Video Ref looking at the grounding.
73 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Benefit of the doubt goes to the Dragons centre Matt Cooper who pounces on a Matthew Head kick to score his second try.
Gorrell hooks the conversion
75 min: NEWS Hornby misses an attempted field goal shot.
79 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Matt Head receives a slap across the face from Luke O'Donnell which is penalised by the Referee. Hornby elects to take the 2 points and Gorrell slots the kick over.
80 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - Matt Cooper is now claiming a hat-trick. The Video Referee is looking to see if the Australian centre has grounded the ball fairly.
80 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Cooper collects his hat-trick after some great passing from the halves pairing in Hornby and Gasnier. Gorrell converts the try.
FULLTIME here at WIN Stadium.
Fulltime score: St George Illawarra 34 - North Queensland Cowboys 14
The Dragons just too strong here tonight at WIN Stadium. They dominated the ruck area and an impressive performance from the halves pairing was just too much for the Cowboys to handle.
For the Cowboys, Cashmere and O'Donnell were strong. The Cowboys continue thier run of bad performances and were just lacking that spark here tonight to be a real threat.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Matt Cooper (Dragons)
2 - Ben Hornby (Dragons)
1 - Mark Gasnier (Dragons)