Dragons Game Day Wrap - All Grades

23 September 2006

An absolutely gutted St George Illawarra Dragons outfit has fallen one match short of the Grand Final for the second consecutive year after being edged out by the Melbourne Storm 24-10 at Telstra Stadium tonight.

Trying their hearts out, the Red V just wasn't able to execute to the best of their abilities when it mattered the most. Adding to the Dragons torture was being held up short or over the line on two occasions in crunch stages of the contest.

A devastated coach Nathan Brown was left to rue the missed opportunities after the match.

?We just didn't execute our plays too well tonight", said Brown.

?It took us about 50 - 55 minutes before we could execute something decent out there and it hurt us in the end."

With five first grade stars confirmed to be leaving the club next season, emotions ran high after the contest. No one more saddened at the result than departing Captain Trent Barrett who struggled for words when interviewed at the post match conference.

The five-eighth, England bound next season after ten years in red and white, did all he could on the field to get his side home, but couldn't hide his disappointment after the game.

?I'm very proud to be captain of this side", said Barrett.

?It would have been real nice to play next week, but it's not to be."

?I really don't know what to think now to be honest, my heads a bit all over the shop. It wasn't supposed to end this way."

Along with their captain, ?The Bull' Luke Bailey, Clint Greenshields, Matt Bickerstaff and Shaun Timmins will all be moving on.

The Dragons dodged a bullet early after Melbourne strike weapon Greg Inglis was disallowed a try after only four minutes. Inglis was ruled to have not grounded the ball properly after plucking a Cooper Cronk cross field bomb from the air.

With the aid of some penalties, the Dragons were able to achieve some valuable field position, but struggled to get the ball over the stripe. Gorrell came agonisingly close after 11 minutes, but was ruled to have come inches short of the try line by video referees Chris Ward and Phil Cooley.

A short time later, the Red V were made to pay for a mistake at their own end of the field. Pulling off a set play to perfection, the Storm registered their first points through Inglis. From the scrum base, two second man plays were engineered , culminating with Inglis breaking the outstretched arms of Mark Gasnier to score. Cameron Smith converted for 6-0.

The Dragons continued to come close to scoring. Wes Naiqama dived over in the corner after 24 minutes, but the final pass from Matt Cooper was ruled to have gone forward by referee Steve Clark.

Cooper made up for the pass in his sides next set of six, crossing out wide after rolling onto a classic Ashton Sims offload. Gorrell's conversion from 12 metres in from touch levelled the scores at six all.

Sadly, the Dragons momentum was short lived after Matt King put Melbourne back in front just two minutes later. The International outside back flew high to grab a Cronk cross field bomb AFL style to score. Smith's conversion enabled Melbourne to take a six point lead into half time.

Although no points were scored in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, the atmosphere and the desperation was building.

With 19 minutes on the clock a controversial scrum feed was awarded to the Storm just ten metres out from the Dragons line. Referee Clark had ruled that Ben Creagh had knocked down a loose Melbourne pass, where as replays suggested that the Storm player passed the ball forward into Creagh.

From the scrum, Melbourne added insult to the decision with a try to Steve Turner.

In a well worked scrum mover, King stood up Gasnier one on one and put his winger away in the corner. Smith nailed the extras from the sideline to extend his sides advantage to 12.

With close to 35,000 Dragons fans on the edges of their seats, their side almost gave them a reason to cheer when Naiqama looked to have scored with 11 minutes remaining. After numerous replays, the winger was ruled to have been miraculously held up by Inglis. The very next tackle however, the Dragons were in.

Quick hands to Gasnier on the right allowed the International centre to get one back on his opposite number, standing up King and offloading to Morris who dived over in the corner.

Mat Head failed with his conversion attempt, leaving the Dragons behind by eight with ten minutes remaining.

More Dragons attacking raids followed in the ensuing sets, but the Storms scramble defence held firm.

The death knell officially sounded with three minutes to go when Antonio Kaufusi cruised through some tired Dragons arms tackles to wrap up the contest.

Brown summed up his feelings after the match with a quote from his wife.

"She told me after last year that , Nathan, you love football so much, but sometimes football doesn't love you back."

In season 2006, the Dragons love of football would be unrequited once more.

MELBOURNE STORM 24 ( G Inglis, M King, S Turner, A Kaufusi tries; C Smith 3 goals, M Geyer goal) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 10 ( M Cooper, B Morris tries,; A Gorrell goal)
Crowd: 40 901.
Referee: Steve Clark

23 September 2006

The St George Illawarra Dragons Premier League side have failed to make the Grand Final after being bundled out by the Newtown Jets 38-28 at Telstra Stadium.

Despite leading 28-22 with eight minutes remaining, the Dragons were mowed down, with former team mate Josh Lewis the destroyer.

Lewis helped to put his side in front with five minutes to go when he rolled in a grubber for Jaime Soward, then with 30 seconds to go, last years Jersey Flegg hero grabbed an intercept try to rub in the salt.

The Red V weren?t without their fair share of warriors with Chris Sheppard putting in close to a match winning performance two weeks running. The number 7 was backed up with a strong performance by his engine room with Chris Houston and James Jiminez putting in huge efforts.

The Dragons got off to a flyer, compliments of some light stepping from Chris Sheppard. Picking up from where he left off last week, the halfback jinked his way over the line from close range after just four minutes, alar Alan Langer style. Bryson Goodwin made no mistakes from in front.

Not to be outdone however, the Jets rallied, with Josh Lewis the chief catalyst. It was a 40 metre bust from the former Dragon that put the Jets on the front foot. Two rucks later, an around the corner pass from Adam Schubert put Vince Mellars over. Lewis then levelled the score at 6 a piece with his conversion.

Three minutes later, Newtown hit the lead when Lopini Paea burrowed his way over after receiving a batted down bomb from Jaime Soward. Lewis' conversion made it 6-12.

Needing to arrest the slide, the Dragons went back to basics. With increased possession thanks to better ball control, the Red V began to mount pressure and on 18 minutes George Ndaira turned that pressure into points. Attacking 10 metres out, Ndaira split the markers and stretched out to score. Goodwin made no mistakes from in front to tie the game up at 12 all.

The Red V found themselves back in front just four minutes later when consecutive sets once again produced points. James Jiminez broke from the scrum base ten metres out and with support players drifting wider, the lock forward dummied, then stepped off his right back on the inside to leave defenders clutching at air. The try was converted by Goodwin, giving his side an 18-12 lead.

However the see-sawing nature of the contest continued when the Jets managed the level the scores for a third time with nine minutes left in the half through Luke Gordon. The stalemate held into the halftime break.

After knocking over a penalty goal just after halftime, the Dragons then found themselves behind again after big Charles Tonga went over out wide after running off a Daniel Dumas short ball.

With their season teetering on the brink of collapse, it was Sheppard again who grabbed is side by the scuffs of their jerseys and lead the way.

With half an hour to go, Sheppard fired a telling face pass which gave his side a two on one. Beau Ryan then showed quick hands to shuffle the ball onto Goodwin who got over in the corner. Despite being unable to convert his own try, Goodwin's effort put his side back in front 24-22.

Sheppard then orchestrated his sides next try to extend their lead to six with 25 minutes left.

Attacking the Jets line, the half put up a pin point bomb which was plucked out of the air by Ryan. The centre - three quarters try was not converted, which still kept the door ajar for Newtown.

With eight minutes remaining, the door was unfortunately flung open.

Tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowell., Soward and then Lewis shattered the Dragons.

NEWTOWN JETS 38 (V Mellars, L Paea, L Gordon, C Tonga, S Kenny-Dowell, J Soward, J Lewis tries, J Lewis 5 goals) d. ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 28 ( C Sheppard, G Ndaira, J Jiminez, B Goodwin, B Ryan tries; B Goodwin 4 goals)

Knights defeat Dragons by a field goal
24 September 2006

The St George Illawarra Jersey Flegg team have today been denied the opportunity to defend their Premiership title, having been defeated 23-22 by the Newcastle Knights at Leichhardt Oval.

A field goal with 45 second remaining broke the deadlock in the entertaining encounter played in hot and windy conditions.

The Dragons opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Rota Setu burst through the Knights defensive line on half way centre field. Setu ran 20m, drew the fullback and passed inside to Richard Williams who raced away to score under the posts. Nathan Wynn converted to put Dragons ahead 6-0.

Five minutes later Wynn spotted an overlap and spread the ball right through Jason White and Ryan Millard who drew the winger and passed to an unmarked Luke Irwin on his outside who easily scored. Wynn was unsuccessful with the conversion, the Dragons leading 10-0.

In the 29th minute the Knights made a break down the left hand side and kicked ahead for fullback Sam Wooden to win the footrace and score the first points for his team. Luke Walsh converted, taking the score to 10-6.

Four minutes before half time the Knights scored their second try through Hanan Laban, who pushed through the Dragons defence, taking three defenders across the try line with him, scoring adjacent to the right hand upright. Walsh?s conversion was successful, the Knights taking the lead 12-10.

The Knights continued to pressure the Dragons defence scoring again, just two minutes later through centre Callan Richardson. The Knights had numbers on the right and stretched the Dragons, allowing Richardson to cross the line untouched. Walsh was again successful with the conversion and the Knights headed to the half time break leading 18-10.

The Dragons came out firing in the second half scoring just two minutes after the break. Dan Hunt charged to the line from 10m out, taking three Knights defenders across the line with him. Wynn converted to take the Dragons to 16, just two points behind the Minor Premiers.

In the 58th minute, Dragon Fullback Jason Nightingale scored a solo try, breaking the Knights line 40m out and shrugging defenders off all the way to the try line. Wynn converted from 15m to the right of the upright to put the Dragons in the lead, 22-18.

In the 64th minute the Knight scored a miracle try in the right hand corner, having sent the ball through three sets of hands and being seemingly held up over the line before a speculative ball pooped out the back for Knights winger Akuila Uate to score. Walsh was unsuccessful with the conversation, the scores level at 22 all.

The final minutes of the game were played at a frantic pace with both teams creating and blowing numerous opportunities. Such was the tension; both teams had a player sin-binned for fighting.

In the end it was the Knights who took the opportunity with five eight Scott Dureau kicking a field goal with 45 seconds remaining to break the deadlock and march the Knights into the Grand Final with 23-22 victory.

Knights 23 defeated Dragons 22.

Knights 23 Tries: Sam Wooden, Callen Richardson, Hanan Laban, Akuila Uate. Goals Luke Walsh 3. Field Goal Scott Dureau 1
Dragons 22 Tries Richard Williams, Luke Irwin, Jason Nightingale, Dan Hunt. Goals Nathan Wynn 3

Source: dragons.com.au