Dragons hold on to seal Minor Premiership with victory over Newcastle

In front of a 23,148 sell-out crowd at Energy Australia Stadium, the St George Illawarra Dragons held on after a second half surge from the Newcastle Knights to seal the minor premiership with a 26 -18 victory, taking the Knights out of contention for the 2010 finals series.

Both teams were muscling up in defence early, but it did not take too long for Dragons to stamp their authority on the game with Brett Morris crossing the whitewash in the fifth minute. Soward missed the conversion, about half a metre in from touch.

The game remained competitive, but a bit of ill discipline began to creep in with both sides conceding penalties. The next points of the game came in the 17th minute to Dean Young running straight and hard and over the touchline, an easier conversion for Soward giving Dragons a 10 point lead.

From there the Dragons had all the momentum and converted that into more points in the 23rd minute with a try to Jason Nightingale, which was converted to give Dragons a 16 point lead which they carried into half time. Dragons did come close to scoring again in the 30th minute, but sfter a video referee decision was taken back to Ref's call, Matt Cooper was ruled to have been held up by a brilliant try saving effort from Akuila Uate.

Knights came back in the second half with more intention. But Dragons were the first of the second forty to put on points with a brilliant solo effort from backrower Ben Creagh, muscling over about six defenders. A successful conversion by Soward blew Dragons' lead out to 22 points to nil.

Newcastle were able to hit back just minutes later off the back of a penalty. Another video referee decision deferred back to ground referee Shane Hayne, but this time Hayne pointed to the spot to award Adam MacDougall the try, which Kurt Gidley converted right off the eastern touchline.

A penalty following the kick off made way for the next Newcastle try, this one in the 51st minute to rugby bound Cooper Vuna off a crossfield kick from Jarrod Mullen. Vuna plucked it from the air to score the second try for the home team. Gidley was again made to kick from the sideline and again made no mistake, getting the Knights within 10 points of the Dragons.

Just minutes later this time off the back of a Boyd spill at the back Knights were able to score again to put them four points away from levelling the game. Mullen again setting up for Vuna, this time a brilliant banana kick finds his man. Gidley converted his easiest of the night, this one five metres in from touch, to put Knights in sight of a come from behind victory.

But that was it for the Knights, try as they did, they could not penetrate the Saint George defence which revived their intensity in the last 20 in spite of making a bundle of errors with the ball in hand. Dragons showed just why they are the number one team and have been all year.

The red and whites did finally seal their victory and the minor premiership in the 77th minute with a try to Jamie Soward off a huge Darius Boyd clean break right through the Newcastle defences. Soward planted the try and then it was a matter of winding the clock down for Dragons to emerge 26 - 18 victors.

Match Details
Newcastle Knights 18 were defeated by St George Illawarra Dragons 26
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 25 - Saturday August 28, 2010 7:30pm
Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Paul Holland and Grant Atkins
Crowd: 23,148
Halftime: St George Illawarra Dragons 16-0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Dean Young (1 Try)
2 Points - Jarrod Mullen
1 Point - Jamie Soward (1 Try, 3 Conversions)

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (18)
Tries: Adam MacDougall, Cooper Vuna (2)
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (3/3)

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (26)
Tries: Ben Creagh, Dean Young, Jamie Soward, Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale
Conversions: Jamie Soward (3/5)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Hello and Welcome to Energy Australia Stadium for League Unlimited's coverage of this round 25 match between the first placed Dragons and the eleventh placed Knights. The Newcastle team coming into tonight's game clinging to hope of doing enough to reach the eight, a win tonight will keep them in contention for a finals berth. A win for the Saint George Illawarra team tonight will seal up the 2010 minor premiership for the Red Vs as their point differential being insurmountable for any team who could then catch up on wins.
TEAM NEWS: Dragons' Beau Scott is out, he will be replaced in the run on side by number 16, Matt Prior, and number 18 Nick Emmett moves onto the bench. Knights are 1 to 17 as per program.

In the Toyota Cup this evening, Dragons had an emphatic 44 points to 6 victory.
1 min: Knights kick off and we are underway.
3 min: A tough and physical start to the game, no mistakes and both sides really muscling up in defence.
4 min: Mullen breaks the Dragons' line and Knights well on the attack here.
5 min: PENALTY to the Dragons, high shot from Gidley on Morris, Gidley is put on report.
VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Dragons try.
6 min: TRY
TRY to the Dragons, Morris has grounded it. Akuila Uate wrong footed by Brett Morris who runs in to put a try down in the left corner. Conversion from Jamie Soward unsuccessful.
St George Illawarra Dragons 4-0
7 min: Dragons spill the ball after the try, so they hand the ball to the Knights to have a return of serve.
9 min: PENALTY against the Knights for a strip, to give the Dragons a good shot at Newcastle's line.
10 min: Great set by the Dragons, but well diffused by Jarrod Mullen in the end to hold the Dragons out from putting more points on early.
12 min: Gidley puts a kick in for Akuila Uate, Dragons knock it out, to gibe Newcastle a scrum feed about 30 metres out from the Dragons line.
13 min: PENALTY to the Knights for Dragons offside, camping them deep in Dragons territory.
14 min: Great defensive performance from the Dragons help them diffuse the situation.
15 min: PENALTY to the Dragons, against Gidley for tackling a man without the ball, putting Dragons right on the attack.
18 min: TRY
TRY to the Dragons, Jeremy Smith to Dean Young who runs it straight and hard to score the Dragons second. Conversion by Jamie Soward successful.
St George Illawarra Dragons 10-0
20 min: Kick down field from Soward runs dead, to give Newcastle a set from their twenty.
21 min: Matt Cooper from inside uses his shoulder to push Akuila Uate over the sideline.
VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Dragons try.
23 min: TRY
A bomb from Saint George Illawarra hits the uprights and bounces back in field. Shannon McDonnell makes a mess of trying to diffuse it and Jason Nightingale pounces on it and scores for the Dragons. Conversion from Jamie Soward successful.
St George Illawarra Dragons 16-0
25 min: Dragons look to be well on top at the moment out enthusing Newcastle in all facets of the game.
26 min: PENALTY to the Dragons for a high shot from Zeb Taia on Darius Boyd.
28 min: Double knock on, but Knights ruled to have made the first error, gifting Dragons a set in good field position.
VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Dragons try.
30 min: NO TRY Decision goes to ref's call and Uate was ruled hold Matt Cooper up, with great try saving effort.
32 min: PENALTY to Newcastle for Cooper hitting Tolar high.
33 min: Knights put on a great attacking set but Junior Sau ends it with a bad kick through the in goal.
34 min: A kick down field from Isaac De Gois is played a by the Dragons giving Knights another shot at the Dragons line.
35 min: Dragons defending stoutly and responding well to everything Newcastle throw at them.
37 min: PENALTY to Knights for Dragons offside, deep in Dragons territory.
38 min: Cooper Vuna bombs a golden opportunity for the Knights to put points on the board, great defensive effort from Gasnier there.
40 min: The hooter blows and that's the half.
41 min: Dragons kick off to get the second half underway.
43 min: Solid start to the second half from the Knights, trying to get back into this game.
44 min: PENALTY to the Dragons for offside.
VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Dragons try.
45 min: TRY
TRY to the Dragons, tremendous effort from Ben Creagh, who muscles over about 5 defenders to score a ripper of a try. Conversion by Jamie Soward successful.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22-0
46 min: PENALTY to Newcastle for a high shot.
VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Newcastle try.
48 min: TRY
TRY Video referee Russell Smith takes it back to Shane Hayne for a Ref's call and Hayne gives Adam MacDougall perhaps a benefit of the doubt try to give Newcastle their first points of the game. Kurt Gidley converts it from the Eastern touchline.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22-6
49 min: PENALTY to the Knights for a strip, so an opportunity for the Knights to go back to back on the scoreboard.
51 min: TRY
TRY to the Knights, off a great crossfield kick by Jarrod Mullen, Vuna plucks it from the air and scores a beautiful try. Gidley nails another one from the sideline.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22-12
52 min: Knights with plenty of momentum here.
53 min: Darius Boyd drops one at the back to help the Knights revival along.
56 min: TRY
Brilliant banana kick from Mullen on the forth puts Vuna in for his second. Gidley from 5 metres in from touch gets Knights 4 points shy of taking the lead.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22-18
58 min: PENALTY against the Dragons for a strip, Knights with all the attacking play here.
60 min: Frustration in the Dragons camp has them making a bundle of errors.
61 min: Mark Taufua gives Dragons a massiive let off by spilling the ball about ten metres out from the Dragons line.
62 min: Jamie Soward knocks the ball on to halt what was almost a Dragons' raid of the Newcastle line.
63 min: Time called off with Cooper Vuna having a little neck trouble, but he shakes it off and plays on.
64 min: Gasnier is slid across the toucline by Jamie Sau on this slippery surface.
66 min: Cooper Vuna goes high for a Mullen bomb, but is ruled to have knocked it on.
68 min: Dragons taken across the sideline for a Knights scrum feed.
69 min: PENALTY against the Dragons for a strip, referee Hayne gets the call from video referee Russel Smith after almost missing that one.
70 min: Jarrod Mullen knocks on to switch the attack back to the Dragons.
71 min: PENALTY to the Knights for an indescretion stopping the Knights from getting the ball to restart.
73 min: A real arm wrestle unfolding in these last ten minutes
74 min: Sloppy play the ball from the Dragons gifts Newcastle posession.
76 min: Jamie Soward with a great take diffuses a Jarrod Mullen bomb to Vuna
78 min: TRY
TRY to the Dragons, Darius Boyd makes beautiful clean break through the Newcastle line, streaks down and gets the ball on to Jamie Soward to score for the Dragons. Soward its the uprights in his conversion attempt and misses.
St George Illawarra Dragons 26-18
80 min: Soward kicks the ball over the sideline to wind the last 5 seconds on the clock down and give the Dragons a 26 - 18 victory.

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