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In a matchup between flamboyance and conservatism, the Dragons structured style won out over the youthful exhuberant style of the Eels in a match that never reached any great heights.
The Dragons started the stronger of the two teams, going close to scoring a couple of times within the first few minutes before halfback Ben Hornby chased a grubber through for the first try of the year in the sixth minute.
The Eels slowly swung possession and field position back their way, but poor last tackle options prevented them from getting on the board.
Meanwhile, the Dragons continued going about their business, and doubled their lead through a strong run close to the line by Jeremy Smith at the halfway mark of the first half.
The Eels had to find something, somewhere, or else they risked this game getting away from them early.
Luckily for them, halfback Jeff Robson threw one of the biggest dummies you'll ever see to open the Dragons defence side open just minutes later. Robson poured through the hole, before finding Jarryd Hayne backing up inside, who was then rounded up almost immediately. Following the quick play-the-ball the ball was passed straight out to Eric Grothe on the wing to crash over and get the Eels back in the game.
The Dragons continued to threaten to extend their lead, however weren't able to capitalise and went into the break with a six point lead, but also down a man after hooker Nathan Fien went down with a suspected broken ankle late in the first half.
Coming out of the half, the Eels were fired up, and threatened to score three times but continual poor options on the last ensured the scoreboard attendant wasn't bothered.
St George decided to take the conservative route in the second half, taking any chance at penalty goal they could get, building up a ten point lead by the 58th minute.
Hayne ensured the majority Parramatta crowd of 18,293 would be treated to a grandstand finish when he delivered a sensational cut-out pass to Luke Burt in the 62nd minute. Burt had a bit of work to do as well, reaching behind himself with one hand to gather the ball, then capped it all off with a sublime kick from the sideline.
However the night belonged to the visitors, as Soward kicked one last penalty goal to give the Dragons the six point victory, and sole leadership of the 2010 Telstra Premiership for approximately one hour.
Match Details Parramatta Eels 12 were defeated by St George Illawarra Dragons 18 National Rugby League - NRL - Round 1 - Friday March 12, 2010 7:35pm Venue: Parramatta Stadium Referee: Tony Archer and Gavin Badger Video Referee: Bill Harrigan Touch Judges: Paul Holland and Grant Atkins Crowd: 18293 Halftime: Parramatta Eels 6 St George Illawarra Dragons 12
Parramatta Eels (12)
Tries: Luke Burt, Eric Grothe
Conversions: Luke Burt (2/2)
St George Illawarra Dragons (18)
Tries: Ben Hornby, Jeremy Smith
Field Goals: Jamie Soward (0/1)
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (3/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening and welcome to season 2010! Tonight we kick things off with a blockbuster between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons live from Parramatta Stadium.
In late team changes, centres Joel Reddy and Matt Cooper are both out from hamstring strains, being replaced by Krisnan Inu and Matt Prior respectively.
Both teams heading out to the field. Stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com - the season kickoff is just moments away!
1 min: And we're underway! Michael Weyman takes the first hit-up of 2010.
1 min: And the first penalty of the season goes against the Eels after former Dragon Poore gives Weyman a nice little facial on the ground. Dragons with the first red zone attacking set of the season.
2 min: Eric Grothe cleans up Soward cross field kick on the last and the Eels survive the early pressure.
4 min: Grothe takes another kick on the last, and is driven into the in-goal for the first drop out of the game.
6 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Dragons Try...
Hornby has raced through to plant the ball following a kick, just checking onside and grounding as Hornby writhes around on the ground in pain with a possible arm or shoulder injury.
6 min: TRY
And Hornby is given the green light for the first try of the season. Soward lands the easy conversion from right in front.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
8 min: Another penalty to the Dragons after young Mortimer goes high on Dan Hunt. Dragons with a fresh set just over halfway.
9 min: Parramatta finally get their first penalty after the Dragons were all caught offside, and don't they need it. Dragons well in control of this one early.
11 min: Good kick return by Burt, ducking and weaving his way 30 metres downfield to getsthe Eels in great position to try and put some points on the board.
14 min: Momentum slowly starting to swing back to the home side who have had the better of the field position for the last five minutes, and have just received a penalty to give them a full set just ten out from the Dragons line.
16 min: Ben Smith flies high for the ball in the in-goal, but is unable to handle it and the ball goes touch in-goal.
17 min: Another penalty for the Eels, making it three straight penalties to the home side, who now find themselves on the Dragons 35, once again searching for their first points of the year.
18 min: Parra started to put on some razzle dazzle, but it all came unstuck with Keating simply losing control of the ball.
20 min: A poor kick from Hayne goes out on the full. Dragons to start on the Eels 40.
22 min: TRY
Simple case of too hard, too fast close to the line as Jeremy Smith collects the ball at full steam, spins out of an attempted tackle to crash over the line. Soward lands another from an easy angle.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
23 min: Parramatta have immediately taken action following that try, bringing big Fuifui Moimoi on to try and put some spark into the team.
25 min: TRY
A massive dummy from Jeff Robson has opened the Dragons defence up, as he poured through a massive gap before finding Hayne in support who was eventually rounded up from behind. Following the quick play-the-ball, Smith darts from dummy half, passes out to Inu who flicks onto Grothe to fall over the line in the corner. Sensational kick from the sideline by Burt.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-6
29 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
Following a penalty, the Dragons opt for the two but Soward pushes it wide. Dragons to get the ball back following the drop-out on the 20.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-6
31 min: Tahu goes to put a massive shot on Boyd, forcing the ball loose but knocks on in trying to recover the pill.
33 min: Fien drills the ball into the in-goal, where Inu collects but is unable to get back to the field of play. Another drop-out for the Eels.
34 min: Mortimer leaps high above the pack to collect the ball in his in-goal, saving the day for the Eels.
35 min: Terrible news for the Dragons, as Nathan Fien is helped off the field with what looks to be a lower leg injury.
38 min: The Dragons looked threatening to score off a sweeping backline movement, only for Boyd to slightly overrun the pass, knocking it ever so slightly forward in the process.
39 min: Now the Eels look certain to score from a sweeping backline movement, but Burt is unable to get the ball to the man on the outside and is tackled just metres out from the line.
40 min: It's half time here at Parramatta Stadium, where the visiting Dragons lead the home side by 12 points to 6.
40 min: As both teams make their way back to the field, make sure you stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com as the second half is just moments away!
40 min: And the second half is underway! Although not the best of starts for Parramatta, with first Luke Burt getting clutching at his hip, and then Shackleton is assisted from the field after hyperextending his knee.
41 min: In news from the sheds, Nathan Fien looks to have a possible broken ankle - a shame as he was one of the Dragons best in the first half.
43 min: Exciting footy from the Eels, putting on the same type of razzle dazzle footy that carried them all the way to the Grand Final last year, with a final errant pass bring an end to the play just five out from the Dragons line.
44 min: Massive break by Tahu after Mateo did wonderfully well to offload under heavy pressure.
46 min: Inu loses the ball cold in trying to play it, and every Dragons takes a big sigh of relief as it's been all Blue and Gold these opening few minutes.
49 min: Inu flies high close to his line to collect the Dragons attacking bomb, but a penalty is awarded to the Dragons after Robson is ruled to have taken a defender out of play. Soward lines up to take the shot at goal.
49 min: PENALTY GOAL
Soward lands it to give the Dragons an 8 point advantage.
St George Illawarra Dragons 14-6
53 min: Reports from the sheds indicate that Shackleton has suffered a torn hamstring and will not be back tonight.
54 min: The Dragons, having done well to weather the early onslaught from the Eels, are slowly swinging momentum, possession and field position back their way.
56 min: Hayne runs back to collect a grubber in his in-goal and does well to off-load to Grothe before he is dragged back to the in-goal, but unfortunately for the Eels Grothe is bundled into touch. Big pressure against the Eels coming up.
58 min: Mortimer gives away the penalty on the last and Soward once again lines up for the shot at goal.
58 min: PENALTY GOAL
Soward makes no mistake and now it's a ten point lead to the visitors.
St George Illawarra Dragons 16-6
61 min: The Eels get a penalty after the Dragons are found offside, and will see Dragons territory for the first time in about ten minutes.
62 min: TRY
A sensational cut-out pass from Hayne and an even better one-handed gather from behind by Burt puts the Eels back in the match. Burt puts the icing on with an outstanding kick from the sideline.
St George Illawarra Dragons 16-12
64 min: A huge hit from Saffy jolts the ball loose from Cayless' grasp on just the first tackle following the restart. Ideal opportunity for the Dragons to reinstate their ten point lead.
68 min: Big pressure coming up for the Eels as Mortimer fluffs an attempt at gathering the ball close to his line.
69 min: Great defence from Tahu and Mortimer shuts down Soward on the last just metres out from the line.
71 min: Hayne does a chip-and-chase on the last and while he doesn't regather, is able to bat it back to Mortimer who keeps it alive, sending it out to Fuifui and Tahu on the left who make some headway before Fuifui is forced into touch.
73 min: Big play by the Dragons as Boyd collects the kick on his own ten, racing up and across field before finding Hornby back on the inside who in turn finds Morris who is finally round up on the Eels 40.
75 min: Moimoi is penalised for a strip as Weyman loses the ball. Soward, obviously confused about which code of Rugby he's playing, lines up for yet another shot at goal.
75 min: PENALTY GOAL
Soward lands another relatively easy shot at goal
St George Illawarra Dragons 18-12
77 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT
Soward lines up for the one pointer, but a terrible pass from dummy half cuts down the time he has to kick it, and as a result it goes wide to the left.
St George Illawarra Dragons 18-12
80 min: Parra try to keep the ball alive on the last but are eventually forced to kick it ahead where Nightingale collects and takes the tackle, calling an end to the first game of the season, whith the Dragons grinding out a narrow 18-12 victory over the Parramatta Eels.