The St. George-Illawarra Dragons have run out winners in a close fought, gritty game today against the Newcastle Knights in front of 14,226 fans at WIN Jubilee Oval at Kogarah.
An outstanding performance from the Dragons forwards going forward, and the defensive line saw them hold on to win by 3 points, 19 - 16.
In what was looming to be a hard fought game right from the outset, the Newcastle Knights lost Buderus and Quinn before the game to injury, making way for Timana Tahu and Korbin Sims, the latter having only played yesterday for the Knights NSW Cup side. The Dragons went with Josh Drinkwater to make his debut, which he did early in the second half due to an injury to Dragons fullback Gerard Beale.
It was only 7 minutes before the first scoring play of the game. A penalty to the Dragons from right on front saw Jamie Soward kick for 2 points on what appeared to be the trainers instructions.
After 14 minutes the first try of the game was scored by Brett Morris in the corner following an offload by Trent Merrin. The ball was sent out to Matt Cooper who passed it quickly to Morris to dive over for an easy 4 pointer. Soward converted the try successfully from the sideline to take the score to 8 - 0.
The only other scoring play in the first half came from a Soward field goal in a long range effort. On video replay, the ball bounced off the crossbar and through the posts. The score leading into half time was 9 - 0.
The Knights came out firing on all cylinders after the break, quickly making amends by scoring their first points of the afternoon in the 44th minute. Gidley threw a deft pass to Boyd who crashed through the defensive line to put the ball down for his second 4 pointer for the year. Gidley converted the try successfully to take the scores to 9 - 6.
Nightingale crossed in the 53rd minute after a cut out pass from Soward saw him plant the ball in the corner. Soward missed the difficult conversion from the sideline and the Dragons once again had some breathing space at 13 - 6.
In the 60th minute came a crucial play when the Dragons sent the ball down to the Knights fullback on the last tackle, only to see Boyd spill the ball in the 3 man tackle as he ran it back. Stanley pounced on the loose ball and dished it out to Frizell who crashed over the line to the right of the posts for the Dragons third try of the afternoon. Soward converted the try to take the scores to 19 - 6 with 2o minutes to go.
The 65th minute saw Bennetts boys on the attack again with Tahu sending McManus down the sideline. Tahu backed up in support to reap his rewards as he put the ball over the line to bring the Knights back into the game. Gidley converted to bring the Knights within 7 points of sending the game into extra time.
The next 15 minutes saw the Knights throw everything but the kitchen sink against the Dragons defensive wall however could not get the home side to crack. The game looked destined to end 1t 19 - 12 before Uate managed to make some ground from within his own half. The Knights went the length of the field and put in a light kick to see Uate score in the corner. Unfortunately Gidley missed the conversion and by then the siren had sounded. The final score was 19 - 16 in favor of the Dragons.
Next week the Dragons travel to the SCG to face the Tigers on Sunday afternoon and the Knights will be at home against the Panthers on Saturday for the early game.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19 Newcastle Knights 16
Venue: Kogarah Oval
Halftime Score: Dragons 9 - 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Mitch Rein
2 points - Dan Hunt
1 point - Trent Merrin
ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (19)
Tries: Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale, Tyson Frizell
Field Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (16)
Tries: Darius Boyd, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Team news for the Dragons is in! The run on squad remains the same with the bench including Harrison, Prior, de Belin and in his NRL debut - Josh Drinkwater.
The Knights have finalised their squad for this afternoons clash. Tahu has been brought in for Quinn who is out with a suspected elbow injury, while Sims replaced Buderus on the bench.
A moments silence for Ian Walsh before the kick off.
Stanley kicking off for the Dragons and the Knights will have the first set.
2 min: The Knights complete their first set with a kick from Mullen to Beale on the full.
2 min: Sowards kick goes over the sideline and its a scrum to the Knights.
3 min: Newcastle make good metres in that set and it's another one completed with a Mullen kick low along the ground to Beale.
3 min: Fien completes yet another set with a kick down into the Knights in goal. They work it out successfully.
4 min: The ball is back with the Dragons through Morris after a Gidley kick. Dragons are 45m out from their own line.
5 min: The Dragons will get the ball back after kicking deep into the Knights in goal. Boyd takes it out.
6 min: PENALTY - Dan Hunt earns a penalty in front after being held down in the tackle for too long.
7 min: Soward kicks the penalty successfully through the posts to take an early 2 point lead.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 2-0
9 min: Frizell with a break down the side but can't find any support. Soward puts up a bomb and theyre going to get the ball back as its been deemed the Knights were offside in getting the ball back from the bomb.
9 min: Soward kicks early in the tackle count but it's cleaned up by McManus on his own 5m line and they'll work it out of their own half.
12 min: PENALTY - The Knights called offside again as Stockwell takes it up. They take the tap this time.
14 min: TRY! - Trent Merrin with an offload to Stockwell and he gets it out to Cooper who puts Morris in for a try! Soward puts a great curl on the ball and kicks the conversion from the sideline.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 8-0
16 min: PENALTY - The Knights get a relieving penalty after the Dragons are called for offside.
17 min: Houston knocks on after a great low tackle from Rein.
19 min: The Knights get a scrum after Soward kicks long and it bounces over McManus' head.
20 min: PENALTY - Tahu held down too long and its a penalty to the Knights.
20 min: Morris cleans up the ball in goal on the full after a rough kick from Newcastle.
21 min: Soward bombs high in the air and Stanley gets the ball, it goes through the hands but the Kmights are able to recover to stop the attacking raid.
22 min: Mullen kicks the ball over the sideline and the Dragons will get a scrum feed from 15m out from their own line.
23 min: Soward kicks into the in goal and it stops dead. Boyd manages to bring it back out into the field of play.
25 min: Soward kicks to complete another set and it's gone out over the dead ball line.
28 min: Soward with a crunching tackle on McKinnon, the Knights complete another set with a kick down field. It's a bit of an arm wrestle at the moment with both teams completing all of their sets comfortably. Only one error recorded so far.
28 min: Rein is down and looks to be injured. The clock has been stopped and Drinkwater is warming up on the sidelines.
29 min: Rein looks to be ok and they restart. Fien kicks over the sideline for a Knights scrum.
30 min: Newcastle put up an attacking bomb and its recovered through Fa'alogo but a wayward pass is put away and Cooper cleans it up.
31 min: Another deep, long kick by Soward and its out in goal for another 20m restart for the Knights.
32 min: Newcastle has a scrum 5m out from the Dragons line.
33 min: PENALTY - Dragons give away a penalty after holding down Mullen too long.
33 min: Gidley almost tunnels his way through for a try but is held back by Dragons defenders.
35 min: Soward with another good tackle on Houston who is down and looks to be injured. He gets up and looks to be OK. They put up an attacking bomb and its caught by Boyd but the Dragons have been able to hold them out and the score stays at 8 - 0.
35 min: PENALTY - Rochow is penalised for having his hands all over the ball in the tackle.
36 min: Soward puts up a bomb and its knocked on by the Dragons in goal for a Knights restart.
37 min: PENALTY - Soward pinged for throwing the ball away.
38 min: Uate throws a forward pass after almost sending McKinnon in over the line and it's called back by the referee.
39 min: PENALTY - Hunt earns a penalty after Gidley is called out.
39 min: Tahu intercepts the Dragons attacking raid and is tackle but gets a pass away that is intercepted by Stanley.
40 min: The ball goes out to Soward from Stanley and he kicks a field goal from 40m out. They goto the video ref and it's bounced off the cross bar and through the posts.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 9-0
40 min: We'll be back shortly to continue with the second half. The Dragons have taken this half comfortably, through some great defense. Will the halftime talk rally Newcastle to a comeback or will the Saints go marching into full time with the win?
40 min: Soward attempts to kick long and dead in goal again but Boyd cleans it up this time. It works out better for the Dragons and they drive Boyd back for a goal line drop out.
41 min: Rein kncocks on close to the Knights line and lets them off the hook.
43 min: This is better from the Knights and they are making good meters up the field and its put up high by Mullen on the last. Beale takes it comfortably.
44 min: Matt Prior knocks on and it'll be a scrum for the Knights right on the halfway line.
44 min: TRY! - Gidley through to Boyd and he slices through the defenders to score next to the posts. Gidley puts is dead straight over the black dot.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 9-6
47 min: Beale has injured his knee and has come off. Drinkwater on in the halves and Soward looks to be at fullback.
50 min: KNOCK ON - Costigan has knocked it on on halfway to give the Dragons a scrum feed on halfway.
50 min: PENALTY - Prior held down too long in the tackle and the Dragons will take the tap 20m out.
53 min: TRY - The ball goes out through the hands of Fien and Soward who throws the cut out pass to Nightingale who is in for a try in the corner. Soward misses the conversion.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 13-6
54 min: The Knights complete another set with a high swirling bomb which is safely diffused by Soward.
55 min: Drinkwater kicks the ball but it's gone out dead in goal. The Knights will start on the 20m.
56 min: Costigan loses it into a Dragons defender and the Dragons get a scrum feed on halfway.
57 min: Newcastle diffuse the attacking raid by the Dragons and Boyd cleans it up. Mullen completes the set almost kicking a 40/20 but the ball stopped dead before going out.
58 min: VIDEO REFEREE - A knock on from Boyd sees Frizell in to the right of the posts. They've gone to the video ref to check the tackle.
60 min: A kick goes down to Boyd and he runs it back but loses it in the tackle. Stanley passes it out to Frizell and hes over for a try. Soward converts to take the lead beyond 2 converted tries.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19-6
61 min: Merrin loses the ball and the Knights have it back inside the Dragons 50.
62 min: A wayward pass from Rochow and Fien has cleaned it up.
63 min: Drainkwater puts Cooper into open space but then knocks it on coming up in support as the defense close in on Cooper. Knights get the ball back through the scrum.
65 min: Boyd with a pass out to Tahu who goes out to McManus. McManus streaks down the sideline and finds Tahu in support for a Try! Gidley successfully kicks the goal.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19-12
67 min: A bomb goes up from the Knights and Soward lets it bounce. Houston picks it up but drops it and Cooper cleans up the ball.
68 min: The Dragons are running on fumes and the Knights are making great metres however Korbin knocks on the ball. Big let off then as the Knights were really putting a roll on.
70 min: Newcastle have been pinged for a forward pass on their own 20m line.
71 min: Nightingale drops the ball in the tackle and the Knights have it back.
72 min: Cooper with a big tackle on Boyd who is down and looks injured. Replays show nothing in it and Boyd is back up to his feet to play the ball.
73 min: Newcastle make a midfield attacking raid down the right side but the cut out ball meant for Uate is touched by McKinnon and it goes out over the line.
74 min: The Dragons offload at will and put a grubber into the in goal but its expertly cleaned up by Tahu and taken out of the in goal safely.
76 min: The Knights now giving the Dragons a lesson in offloads and passes as it moves through the hands of just about every Knights player on the field (bench included). Korbin Sims ends up with the ball but is held out half a metre from the try line on the last tackle.
77 min: Uate stopped on the last tackle again by a superhuman effort from the Dragons to deny them another chance.
78 min: 90 seconds left and Soward kicks deep into the Knights in goal. Uate brings it back into the field of play.
80 min: The Knights go the length of the field and a kick is put in for Uate in the corner for a Try! Gidley misses the conversion and thats the end of that.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 19-16
80 min: Wow! What a final 20 minutes to that match. The Knights threw everything at the Dragons but were unable to to crack the defense until it was too late.