Dragons fire and leave Sharks black and blue

St George Illawarra have moved back into third position on the NRL ladder and waved goodbye to the Origin series in emphatic style, running out 38-8 victors over Cronulla in front of 16879 fans at WIN Jubilee Oval tonight.

One of the most eagerly anticipated matches of Rivalry Round 2011 took place with arch-rivals the Dragons and Sharks doing battle, but for the Sharks, they would be on the end of a red and white avalanche of possession and points in the opening 20 minutes.

It took only five minutes for the Dragons juggernaut to start firing. When the returning Matt Cooper sliced through some soft goal-line defence by the Sharks, the portents were ominous for the visitors of what was about to unfold. Several minutes later the Dragons kept in front of the clock through Brett Morris. The winger appeared to be held over the line as the home side ran the ball on the last tackle. But unfortunately for the Sharks, their defence would inexplicably switch off and Morris spun out of the tackle. Front rower Michael Weyman continued the procession in the 18th minute when he crashed over underneath the posts.

Halfback Nathan Fien picked up the ball from dummy half before passing a simple inside ball to the lumbering forward.

Matt Cooper appeared to extend the Dragons lead in the 23rd minute, but fortunately for the Sharks, winger Nathan Stapleton and Ben Pomeroy were successful in bundling him in touch in-goal. Jake Marketo completed the scoring in the shadows of halftime when he scored untouched, taking advantage of Nathan Fien's inside pass.

The Dragons went to the break with the benefit of 64% of possession and a comfortable 24-0 lead.

The Sharks suffered a blow early in the second half when winger Matt Wright was taken from the field on a stretcher after falling awkwardly in a tackle by Michael Weyman which saw the young winger's neck squashed under the weight of the Dragons forward.

The visitors had to be first to score in the second half to be a chance of an unlikely victory and they did just that through prop Josh Cordoba in the 47th minute. The front rower charged onto a short pass and surprisingly ran over the top of Dragons centre Matt Cooper. Colin Best trimmed the Dragons lead to 16 points when he took advantage of a perfect cut-out pass from five-eighth Wade Graham who hit Sam Tagataese on the chest. Filling in at centre, Tagataese drew the winger and sent Best on his way to the tryline.

That would be all the points the Sharks scored as the Dragons awoke from their halftime slumber to score the final 14 points of the match.

Jamie Soward scored the Dragons first try of the second half in the 70th minute when he fumbled the ball from the base of the scrum. The Sharks defence stopped, leaving Soward with a saloon passage to the tryline.

Interchange forward Jon Green put the icing on the cake minutes from fulltime.

Green charged onto Mitch Rein's short pass from dummy half, diving over alongside the posts. Soward wrapped up a perfect night with the boot, piloting the ball between the uprights for the seventh time in the night.

Next week, the Sharks host the Knights in a top-eight shootout at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night, while the Dragons travel down the Hume Highway for another Monday night encounter with the Raiders.

Match Details
St George Illawarra Dragons 38 defeated Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 8
National Rugby League - Round 19 (Rivalry Round) - Monday July 18, 2011 7:00pm
Venue: WIN Jubilee Oval
Referee: Jason Robinson and Steve Lyons
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and David Munro
Crowd: 16879
Halftime: St George Illawarra Dragons 24 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Jamie Soward (1 Try, 6 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - Matt Cooper (1 Try)
1 Point - Trent Merrin

Tries: Matt Cooper, Michael Weyman, Jamie Soward, Jake Marketo, Brett Morris, Jon Green
Conversions: Jamie Soward (6/6)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)

Tries: Josh Cordoba, Colin Best
Conversions: Nathan Stapleton (0/1), Chad Townsend (0/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening and welcome to WIN Jubilee Oval in Kogarah for tonight's final match of Round 19 - Rivalry Round in the 2011 Telstra Premiership. What a match we have in store for us tonight with the local rivals - the Dragons and Sharks about to do battle.

Team news has just come to hand and for the Dragons, Dean Young is out and he will be replaced by Mitch Rein at hooker. Trent Merrin comes into the run-on side at the expense of Beau Scott. Jake Marketo and David Gower join Jon Green and Adam Cuthbertson on Wayne Bennett's Dragons' bench.

For the Sharks, Kade Snowden is a welcome addition to Shane Flanagan's run-on side, with Josh Cordoba dropping back to the bench. Stuart Flanagan drops off altogether. This promises to be an absolute cracker and kick-off is scheduled for a little after 7pm. Join us then!
In the recently completed Toyota Cup curtain raiser, the Sharks have cemented their place in the top four with a comprehensive 38-4 victory over the Dragons.
1 min: And we're underway! The rain has ceased falling for now, but the surface will remain slippery and ball handling will be of utmost importance.
2 min: Gardner picks up Soward's pass and is hit in a solid tackle.
3 min: The Dragons work the ball off their own line and Creagh goes centrefield.
3 min: Soward's kick from dummy half pulls up just inside the deadball line and Gardner has to pick it up, before being forced in the in-goal by Morris and Cooper.
5 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Matt Cooper. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
The Dragons will play from in front tonight! The home side shifted the ball to their left hand side, with Soward and Fien linking, before Boyd found Cooper who got on the outside of Pomeroy and banged the ball down just inside the western touchline. Soward adds the extras from the sideline.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
7 min: Morris shows some acrobatics, batting the ball back into the field of play off the restart.
7 min: PENALTY Dragons. Three-man Sharks tackle pull the ball out.
9 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Brett Morris. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
The Dragons are in again! Brett Morris extends the lead after they run the ball on the last tackle. Creagh popped a pass over several Sharks defenders, before Morris somehow beat four Sharks defenders to score the try. Soward again converts from the sideline.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
11 min: PENALTY Dragons. The red and white tidal wave of possession continues as the Sharks are caught offside.
12 min: Soward's chipkick for Gasnier is pin-point, but Gardner is there first and bats the ball dead.
13 min: Morris dives across in the corner, but Boyd's pass to the winger is ruled forward.
14 min: PENALTY Sharks. Dragons caught offside.
15 min: The Sharks charge downfield and are now on the attack.
15 min: Gardner puts the ball down after Soward rushes up in his face and forces the error.
16 min: Fien grubbers into the corner, but the ball keeps rolling and it will be a Sharks 20m restart.
17 min: A Sharks error gifts the Dragons more field position and possession.
17 min: Soward kicks for Nightingale, but Wright bats the ball into touch. Another set of six in defence for the Sharks here and they'll do well to hang on.
18 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Michael Weyman. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
It's all too easy for the Dragons here at the moment! The big front-rower crashes over under the crossbar after receiving an inside pass off Fien. Soward adds the two points from in front.
St George Illawarra Dragons 18-0
21 min: Gardner takes Soward's bomb well and the Sharks finally will have some possession.
22 min: Townsend attempts to kick on tackle five, but the ball hits Bukuya and the Dragons will have a play-the-ball.
23 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.
23 min: No Try. The Sharks goal-line defence holds the Dragons out as Cooper is tackled touch in-goal.
24 min: Townsend's bomb is allowed to bounce, but Soward is first to the loose ball and dives on it.
29 min: PENALTY Sharks. Gallen works hard to get a quick play-the-ball and is rewarded with the penalty.
30 min: PENALTY Sharks. Player taken on suspicion, even though the player in suspicion was preventing the tackle.
32 min: Graham grubbers into the in-goal, but Nightingale was waiting for the ball and gets into the field of play.
32 min: PENALTY Dragons. Sharks markers not square.
34 min: Fien kicks for Morris, but Stapleton takes the bomb easily.
35 min: The Dragons bomb a certain try! Again the home side move the ball to their left side, with Cooper getting between two defenders before flicking a pass to Boyd, but the fullback can't deliver the final pass to Morris who puts the ball down.
37 min: PENALTY Dragons. Markers push Creagh back to the ground after he attempts a quick play-the-ball.
38 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Jake Marketo. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
The Dragons score try number four and it is all too easy. Fien took the line on, before passing back on the inside to Marketo who dived over untouched. Soward again adds the two points.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24-0
40 min: Halftime here at WIN Jubilee and the Dragons lead the Sharks 24-0.
41 min: The second half is underway and the Sharks will get first use of the ball.
42 min: Soward's bomb is again taken well by Stapleton who is then tackled by Boyd.
45 min: Gardner throws an unnecessary pass to Wright, but the winger hangs onto the pass, before being hit in a tackle by Weyman which leaves the winger a bit dazed.
45 min: Some concern being shown here for the Sharks winger as he is placed on the stretcher
46 min: The Dragons again let the ball bounce as Townsend hoists a bomb high. Prior is first to the bouncing ball, but knocks the ball into Gardner and the Sharks will get a repeat set.
47 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Sharks try.
47 min: TRY New York Knights
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Josh Cordoba. Conversion attempt by Chad Townsend unsuccessful.
The Sharks get on the scoreboard tonight and take full advantage of some sloppiness by the Dragons allowing the ball to bounce in the previous set of six. Cordoba runs straight over the top of Cooper and scores out wide. Townsend's conversion from near the eastern sideline misses to the left of the posts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24-4
49 min: Townsend again puts the ball in the air and Boyd puts the ball down, but Nightingale is there in support.
49 min: PENALTY Dragons. John Morris has a brain explosion and punches the ball out of Nightingale's grasp as he went to play the ball.
50 min: PENALTY Dragons. Morris again involved as the player is put in a dangerous position, despite replays indicating otherwise.
51 min: Prior attempts to reach out and put the ball on the line, but loses control of the ball.
53 min: PENALTY Sharks. Townsend hit after kicking and the Sharks will receive the ball where it landed, but replays suggest how the halfback landed had more to do with the injury than the actual tackle itself.
54 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Colin Best. Conversion attempt by Nathan Stapleton unsuccessful.
The Sharks are in again! They shift the ball left, with Graham's cut-out pass hitting Tagataese, before he found Best who improved the position. Stapleton's conversion attempt hits the upright.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24-8
57 min: The Sharks throw the ball around and march down the field. The ball is moved to the left hand side, but the quick hands sees the ball go down.
60 min: PENALTY Sharks. Dragons caught offside.
61 min: Bukuya puts the ball down after poking his nose through the Dragons defence.
62 min: PENALTY Dragons. Snowden comes in with a swinging arm on the tackled player.
PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Penalty goal attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Soward pushes the margin back to three converted tries.
St George Illawarra Dragons 26-8
65 min: The Dragons again let the ball bounce and Pomeroy gets a hand to the ball and knocks it on.
67 min: The Sharks throw the ball around again and Tupou puts it down.
68 min: Boyd terrorises the Sharks right side defence, before delivering a pass on the outside to Morris, but the winger can't handle the pass otherwise he would have scored untouched.
69 min: The Sharks make another error, with Tupou the culprit.
70 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.
70 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Jamie Soward. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Soward puts the result beyond doubt, eventually picking the ball up from the base of the scrum and racing 40m to score untouched. Soward continues his perfect night with the boot.
St George Illawarra Dragons 32-8
75 min: PENALTY Sharks. Rein gets caught in the play-the-ball.
77 min: PENALTY Dragons. Gasnier throws the ball back inside to Nightingale, but the winger is tackled without the ball.
78 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Jon Green. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Green crashes over, charging onto a short pass from Rein, after Morris split the Sharks open through the middle of the field. Soward makes it 7/7 with the boot, converting from alongside the posts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 38-8
80 min: The Dragons throw the ball around Harlem Globetrotters style, with the ball going through approximately 10 sets of hands, before the last pass from Boyd is ruled forward.
80 min: Fulltime at WIN Jubilee and the Dragons have run out convincing 38-8 victors over the Sharks.

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