Dragons outmuscle Sharks in fiery encounter

Round 25
St George Illawarra Dragons 18 v Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4
at WIN Stadium
Referee: Paul Simpkins

Match Summary:

The St George Illawarra Dragons have defeated a determined Cronulla Sharks 18-4 at a rain soaked WIN Stadium tonight. The win however may have been costly with Dragons utility Dean Young being stretchered off just before full time with a suspected broken leg.

In a highly physical encounter, referee Paul Simpkins issued 13 penalties and gave numerous warnings before sin binning three players just before half time. With the second fight of the match spilling over the touchline, the referee sent Sharks forward Paul Gallen and centre Ben Pomeroy to the bin. They were joined by Dragons lock Shaun Timmins who was playing his first match since being injured in round 12.

The Dragons opened the scoring after 10 minutes when winger Wes Naiqama slotted a penalty goal. The first try came in the 17th minute following a break from centre Mark Gasnier. A kick through from five eighth Trent Barrett was juggled by Brett 'Slippery' Morris before the rookie winger was able to regather and score out wide.

Handling errors thwarted the Sharks advance, but the visitors scored in the 34th minute when Gallen took advantage of an unmarked blind side and dived over from dummy half.

At half time, the Dragons held a narrow 6-4 lead.

The second half saw Saints take control with a try to centre Matt Cooper soon after the break. The sideline conversion from Aaron Gorrell made it 12-4.

The match was marked by some big forward clashes before the halves Trent Barrett, Ben Hornby combined with Gasnier, the movement setting up Young to score next to the posts in the 69th minute.

The result sees the Dragons assured of a top eight spot, regardless of the Knights v Panthers outcome. The Sharks, however, have suffered their ninth consecutive loss, equalling their worst losing streak in the Club's history.

St George Illawarra Dragons: 18
Tries: Matt Cooper, Dean Young, Brett Morris
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Wes Naiqama 2/3
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 4
Tries: Paul Gallen
Goals: Luke Covell 0/1

Penalties: Dragons 7-6
Crowd: 16,897

By the Clock:
Raining in Wollongong but a good crowd on hand. A couple of line up changes, in particular Saints have lock forward Shaun Timmins making his return from injury.

Kick off...!

7 min: NEWS Still pouring rain and still 0-0.

10 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Wes Naiqama kicks a penalty goal from right in front. Sharks repeated infringements while on the back foot.
Dragons 2-0

11 min: FIGHT - a bit of feeling early on. Penalty goes against Dragons.

15 min: NEWS Sharks get their second penalty following a high tackle against Luke Bailey, but they are unable to find touch. Penalties favour Saints 3-2.

17 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Winger Brett Morris scores an extraordinary try after trying to regather a slippery ball while sliding into the in-goal. After the ball appears to be out of reach, it amazingly falls into Morris's grasp for the try. Follows bust up the middle of the park from Mark Gasnier and kick ahead from Trent Barrett. Naiqama unable to convert from out wide.
Dragons 6-0

24 min: NEWS Not for the first time Sharks get an opportunity from close range after Saints make an error. But the Sharks then make an error of their own and are unable to complete the set.

30 min: NEWS Still 6-0 to the Dragons. Plenty of handling errors in the slippery conditions with the Sharks being the main offenders.

34 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Paul Gallen from dummy half scores the easiest of tries when there's no winger at home and Saints nod off on the blind side. Covell unable to convert from out wide.
Dragons 6-4

39 min: FIGHT and SIN BINNINGS - a bigger dust up this time spills over the sideline.
SIN BIN - Paul Gallen (Sharks), Ben Pomeroy (Sharks) and Shaun Timmins (Dragons)

40 min: NEWS Saints winger Brett Morris limps off after sliding into the advertising signs. Looks OK.

Half time: Dragons 6-4
Saints have a better completion rate and probably should be further ahead. Sharks have had a little more of the possession but considering the amount of dropped ball, should be quite pleased they are only two points down.
A physical encounter which will see 12 verses 11 for the first eight or nine minutes of the second half.

Second half underway...
NEWS - Rain has eased.

43 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Matt Cooper scores out wide after Saints get a roll on early in the second half. Cooper figured in an early half bust. Aaron Gorrell conversion hits the posts and is successful!
Dragons 12-4

46 min: NO TRY - Dragons denied after Dean Young kicks through for Gasnier but the Sharks cover it and bat the ball dead. Gasnier cops a knock but is OK.

47 min: Possible TRY to Dragons. Video ref checking....
VERDICT: NO TRY. Gasnier unable to ground the ball over the line. 20m restart for the Sharks.

49 min: NEWS Sinners from both sides return and we have 13 verses 13 again.

50 min: NEWS Sharks defend well for a set on their own line and work it downfield after a 20m restart.

59 min: NEWS Sharks get a penalty after referee rules that Brett Kimmorley is hit late after kicking. Sharks now getting repeat sets at the Dragons' line.
60 min: UPDATE - Saints pressure in defence and Sharks make a handling error.

62 min: NEWS Sharks get a penalty after Ben Creagh (Dragons) is guilty of a high tackle. But Sharks hand over possession with a forward pass. Then Saints make a handling error as another fight threatens to blow up.

69 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Dean Young scores next to the posts after Gasnier steps infield during some broken play from 10m out, finds Ben Hornby who passes to Young. Naiqama converts.
Dragons 18-4

73 min: NEWS Dean Young has suffered a leg injury after twisting awkwardly in a tackle and is stretchered off.

79 min: NEWS Dragons forced into a line drop out and Sharks should get the last set.

80 min: NEWS ON DEAN YOUNG - Suspected broken leg.

Full time: Dragons win 18-4.
A fiery encounter with Saints managing to outmuscle the Sharks in the end. The visitors never stopped trying but too many errors brought them undone, the Sharks crashing to their ninth successive loss.
Saints have now won two on the trot and are assured a finals berth. All the Dragons forwards lifted with front rowers Luke Bailey and Jason Ryles doing a huge amount of work. The Dragons backs showed plenty of enterprise in attack considering the conditions with Gasnier being the difference at crucial turning points. A fine send off for Trent Barrett, Shaun Timmins and Luke Bailey who may have played their last home game in the Red V should the Dragons miss out on a home semi-final.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Luke Bailey (Dragons)
2 - Jason Ryles (Dragons)
1 - Mark Gasnier (Dragons)