Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
Fulltime score: Round 11 NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 16 v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 18
Match summary: The St George Illawarra Dragons have defeated the Newcastle Knights 18-16 at Energy Australia Stadium this evening.
Even though the Knights scored three tries to two, a lack of experienced players in the final ten minutes when they came surging back into the match cost them any chance of victory.
The game was a very dull affair in the first forty minutes but came to life in the second half, especially in the last fifteen minutes as the Knights rallied from 18-4 down to only trail by two late in the game thanks to tries from Matt Gidley and George Carmont.
There was also a lot of spite in the game with Josh Perry on report for a high shot that will see him suspended while Justin Poore from the Dragons and Dane Campbell from the Knights both spent ten minutes in the bin late in the game for fighting.
Knights prop Craig Smith faced his former Dragons team mates for the first time while Michael Ennis also returned to Newcastle for the first time since signing with the Dragons and his former team mates made him feel right at home, introducing him to the turf on several occasions, making sure he re-acquainted himself with every blade of grass.
Dragons' coach Nathan Brown will be no doubt happy to get out of Newcastle with the two points considering he was missing a host of players through injury and Origin commitments. The win also gives the Dragons their fifth in succession as they start to build a head of steam through the gruelling mid-season grind.
The Knights are edging ever closer to a victory and once they get Johns, Buderus and Simpson back on deck, they will record their first win for the year and have the ability to play spoiler for many finals contenders.
Scorers: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 16 Tries: Newton, Gidley, Carmont Goals: Campbell 0/1, Tanner 2/2 defeated by ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 18 Tries: Naiqama, Manu Goals: Naqiama 5/5
EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne Half time: Dragons 8-0
Live commentary: 1st min: We are underway in Newcastle on a chilly night.
4th min: PENALTY GOAL - Dragons. Wes Naiqama kicks an early goal to give the Dragons a two point lead.
14th min: TRY - Knights. Naiqama strolls through some non-existant defence to score a very easy try. Conversion successful. Dragons 8-0.
26th min: Ordinary game of footy unfolding here with both sides doing there best to empty the stadium by half time and at the current rate they should all be gone in about five minutes.
35th min: Nothing to report in this game apart from the hot dog vendor running out of BBQ sauce. Lacklustre comes to mind. Now, where's the mustard?
HALF TIME: Not much happening tonight as the scoreline indicates with only one try in the first forty minutes. Both sides look lethargic and bored so we'll see which side wants it more in the second half.
41st min: Wake up everyone, the second half has begun!
47th min: TRY - Dragons. Willie Manu makes it look oh so easy as he crosses for the Dragons second try. Conversion successful. Dragons 14-0.
49th min: TRY - Knights. Hallelujah! Newcastle have scored through Clint Newton as this game shows a distinct sign of life. Conversion unsuccessful. Dragons 14-4.
57th min: PENALTY GOAL - Dragons. Naqiama kicks a penalty goal from 40 metres out while falling over and still manages to make it count. This game is now becoming spiteful with a spate of high shots from both teams. Josh Perry is on report and will be in strife come Monday. Dragons 16-4.
60th min: PENALTY GOAL Dragons. A game of Rugby looks to be unfolding here. Naqiama bags another two pointer. Long way back for Newcastle now. Dragons 18-4.
65th min: TRY - Knights. Gidley crosses out wide to give the Knights a sniff, Conversion successful. Dragons 18-10.
71st min: TRY - Knights. George Carmont crosses out wide and have we got a finish for you ladies and gents. Strap yourselves in as the Knights look to win their first match of the year. Conversion successful. Dragons 18-16.
FULL TIME: St George have held on to win against the Knights who simply did not have the class in the end to put the Dragons away. Saints did everything in their power to lose the game but Newcastle's last play options were poor in the last ten minutes. It was lack of experience that cost the Knights but they did show some ticker. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Wes Naiqama (Dragons) 2 - Matt Gidley (Knights) 1 - Ben Hornby (Dragons) -----------------------------------------