Dragons do it for Reg

The St. George Illawarra Dragons have done it tough but done it right, taking out the Reg Gasnier tribute match out 27-24 over the Cowboys tonight at Kogarah in front of 12,000 fans.

A Jason Nightingale hat-trick was the key for a Dragons side missing regular centre Josh Dugan and enforcer Trent Merrin (both on Origin duties), who started slowly by conceding a try down their right side defence through Antonio Winterstein. It didn't take long for the hosts to strike back with Charly Runciman then Nightingale both crossing before Adam Quinlan benefited from a cheeky Benji Marshall in-field kick which bounced awkwardly for the Cowboys defenders.

The Quinlan try had the Dragons in front 14-4 going into halftime before a second try for Winterstein reduced the margin to just four at the break.

With several stars of their own missing - including Johnathan Thurston and James Tamou to Origin duty and a host of long-term injuries - the Cowboys started the second half with a powerful statement, Tariq Sims hitting a hole close to the line centre-field to go over almost untouched after 44 minutes, then backed the effort up with a try for Curtis Rona which saw them take a six-point lead.

Unbelievably with 25 minutes remaining Michael Morgan crossed, slamming the ball down but it was ruled to have bounced, and just one set later the Dragons went up the other end and scored through Jason Nightingale. With the scores level, it came down to each side grinding out a result - end-to-end footy was the name of the game despite the Cowboys piling on the pressure.

It took until the 72nd minute before the deadlock was broken, with Nightingale claiming his third in the far corner of the ground and a superb sideline conversion from Widdop giving the hosts a six-point lead. The following set saw the big Red V roll down the field courtesy of a Leeson Ah Mau break before that man Widdop again potted an important field-goal to push the margin to seven with just a few minutes remaining. The Cowboys' handling cost them, and they didn't cross again until the 79:40 mark through Taumalolo, and there was no time to restart play.

The Dragons now have 16 footy-free days, with a bye next weekend followed by hosting the Manly-Warringah side back here at Kogarah on Monday 21 July. The Cowboys have the bye next weekend as well, but will play on Friday night in Round 19 at home to lowly Cronulla.


Match Details
St. George Illawarra Dragons 27 North Queensland Cowboys 24
Venue: Jubilee Oval
Crowd: 12082
Halftime Score: St. George Illawarra Dragons 14 North Queensland Cowboys 10

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Jason Nightingale
2 points - Michael Morgan
1 point - Gareth Widdop

ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (27)
Tries: Charly Runciman, Jason Nightingale (3), Adam Quinlan
Field Goals: Gareth Widdop (1/1)
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (3/5)

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (24)
Tries: Antonio Winterstein (2), Tariq Sims, Curtis Rona, Jason Taumalolo
Conversions: Matthew Wright (0/1), Ethan Lowe (2/4)


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

LATE MAIL | The Dragons lose Dan Hunt and Dylan Farrell off the bench for this one - Jack Stockwell will start in the forwards with Mike Cooper dropping back to the bench. For the visiting Cowboys, Rory Kostjasyn at hooker is OUT, Anthony Mitchell moves to hooker. The new face on the bench is Zac Santo with John Asiata dropping off. Tautau Moga retains his wing spot and will debut for the club today.

With the nuts and bolts out of the way, let's get down to the reason we're here. Dragons and rugby league legend, the immortal Reg Gasnier is being honoured today with an emotional pre-match presentation. Plenty of reflections from the TV broadcasters on air, while on the field, Ray Warren leads a presentation, including a tribute poem and video on the big screen.

Kickoff now just minutes away. A quick preview - these two sides come in off the back of confidence-boosting wins. The Dragons put the Storm away comfortably last Monday while the Cowboys shot ahead early before holding out the much-fancied Rabbitohs. It will be the home side going in favourites on the back of consecutive wins and the hopeless away record of the Cowboys - the visitors are yet to win away this season. OK... here we go!

We are UNDERWAY at Kogarah. Cowboys with it first.

3: Cowboys go to the air on the last, Quinlan allows it to bounce and eventually Beale cleans up and is forced dead. Drop out.

5: Another drop-out, this time Nightingale spills it and Moga does the same.

6: VIDEO REFEREE possible TRY to Antonio Winterstein. Checking touchline.

6: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Antonio Winterstein. Kick to come.

Winterstein has opened the scoring in the corner.

7: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Matthew Wright unsuccessful.

Wright takes over from JT's regular kicking duties, uses the classic Thurston hook too, but pushes it across the face of goal. No conversion.

10: Dragons now pushing into Cowboys territory for the first time...

11: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Charly Runciman. Kick to come.

A HUGE cut-out pass finds Runciman on the last... Widdop, wow.

12: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop's conversion attempt drifts away to the right.

13: Huge run on tackle two from Jason Nightingale. Dragons are storming up the park.

15: Looks as though Cowboys have been forced into a drop-out, with Winterstein taking the ball in the air in-goal. Possible mid-air tackle but nothing serious so it stays a drop-out. Long one too.

15: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Gypsy is unstoppable down the right wing! Poor defence from the Cowboys there really.

17: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Opposite touchline for this attempt from Widdop... he hits it much more sweetly but it still misses.

19: Penalty Dragons from the kickoff. Ashton Sims has NAILED Ben Creagh but then gone on with the tackle a bit. Afterwards Creagh gives Ashton a gobful which results in brother Tariq and then half the playing squads on the field coming in for some push and shove.

20: Perfectly weighted grubber from Benji Marshall makes Winterstein bat it dead. Cowboys another drop-out.

24: Cowboys have seemingly stemmed the wave of momentum now. Both sides pushing end to end with their sets, putting it high late and the fullbacks doing their jobs.

26: VIDEO REFEREE possible Dragons TRY to Adam Quinlan. Checking a few things in the lead-up. It's beside the posts.

26: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Adam Quinlan. Kick to come.

The try is awarded - Quinlan takes the unusual bounce off a Benji Marshall in-field kick.

27: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Much easier this time from beside the posts - Widdop finally converts one.

30: Good hands down the right side have the Cowboys bearing down on the Dragons' line this set, a high ball from Lui goes across to Moga but Nightingale wins the race and drops it dead. Dragons' drop-out.

33: Another line drop-out for the Dragons. Plenty of pressure applied by the Cowboys as we approach halftime.

33: UNFORCED ERROR NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Tautau Moga makes an unforced error.

Moga's debut has been pretty good but that move wasn't. He was trying an offload there and threw it straight into touch.

35: Marshall puts it high, it's tapped back, Widdop takes it then Quinlan goes through, grubbers, regathers, Marshall comes through but drops it. Cowboys ball.

37: This game's nearly had more drop-outs than points! Lui chips cross-field, it's taken by Taumalolo who finds Morgan, he grubbers for Winterstein's corner and Nightingale has to ground it.

39: Now a penalty for the Cowboys inside the Dragons' 20m.

39: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Antonio Winterstein. Kick to come.

Morgan takes advantage of the overlap down the left and Winterstein has his second!

40: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Ethan Lowe successful.

Lowe with a great sideline conversion despite the wind.

HALFTIME at Kogarah - the Dragons have looked the better of the two sides but the Cowboys put in plenty of minutes in peppering the Dragons line, eventually coming good just before the break. Definitely could go either way here - let's see if the Cowboys can finally win on the road!

41: We're back underway, Dragons running from the right to left of your device.

44: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Tariq Sims. Kick to come.

The Cowboys will hit the lead here, a very easy up-the-guts run and poor defence sees Tariq score.

44: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Ethan Lowe successful.

Lowe converts to send the visitors back into the lead.

47: Cowboys making metres at will at the moment, on the attack again on the next set.

48: Dragons forced into their sixth line drop-out, Quinlan forced in-goal after leaping from the field of play to take a Cowboys' last tackle kick.

49: Cowboys looked certain to score down the left corner... but a forward pass and knock on see the Saints with it, Benji finds Nightingale and the hosts now make plenty of metres.

50: Dragons lose it and Lowe comes away with it, Cowboys push up field. Taumalolo held up...

51: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Curtis Rona. Kick to come.

Easy stuff on the last, Curtis Rona scores for the Cowboys!

52: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Ethan Lowe unsuccessful.

Ethan Lowe misses the conversion attempt - important for the Dragons if they want to stay in this contest. Momentum all with the Cowboys.

53: UNFORCED ERROR NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scott Bolton makes an unforced error.

Bolton makes an error inside his own half. Good chance for the hosts here.

54: No threat from the Dragons on the last, Widdop grubbers and easily finds Matthew Wright.

56: VIDEO REFEREE possible NO TRY to Michael Morgan, checking grounding. He slammed it, doesn't look likely.

56: NO TRY as expected. Dragons with a 20m restart.

56: Dragons get their first penalty since the early part of the game. Set starts 40m out from the Cowboys line.

57: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Some great play down the right and the Dragons cross through Nightingale! What a response!

58: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Scores level once more as Widdop adds the extras. 20-20 with 21 minutes remaining!

63: No idea why but Quinlan's let another bomb bounce. It's kinder to him though and he retrieves it and is tackled.

66: Long kick from Benji finds touch literally less than 1m out. 10m scrum Cowboys on their own line.

67: UNFORCED ERROR NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Michael Morgan makes an unforced error.

Michael Morgan fires the ball wide to his outside men... nope, actually into touch.

69: Widdop tries a short grubber but Zac Santo is there to catch it nervously right in front of the posts.

70: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Adam Quinlan makes an unforced error.

Quinlan looks to go wide and mimics Morgan's antics from earlier... straight past his winger into touch. That's no good. Cowboys scrum 20m out!

72: Beale intercepts! Runs the length... tackled 10m out!!! What scrambling chase!

72: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Gypsy gets a hat trick! The Cowboys out on their feet, Nightingale scores in the corner!

74: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop from near the sideline... he's got it!

76: SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Field goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Dragons roll down the park and on the last Widdop nails the one-pointer to seal the result!

77: Time ticking down here at Kogarah and it looks highly likely we'll see the Cowboys record their eighth away loss from eight games this season.

78: VIDEO REFEREE - Ben Creagh is claiming a try but the officials aren't convinced. We're checking a possible Dragons' knock on.

79: The hands are a blur in these replays - Curtis Rona has tapped it up but Thompson's hands are in there. It's ruled NO TRY. Cowboys 20m restart.

80: Cowboys penalty as they look at getting one more shot. It'll be too little, too late - even if they score here.

80: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Jason Taumalolo. Kick to come.

Taumalolo burrows over but there'll be no time.

80: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Ethan Lowe unsuccessful.

Lowe misses the final conversion which means the margin is three at fulltime.

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