FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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St George Illawarra Dragons 38 v South Sydney Rabbitohs 28
at OKI Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah
Referees: Jason Robinson
The St George-Illawarra Dragons have run-out unconvincing winners against the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 38-28 at Oki Jubilee Stadium this afternoon.
In a game where defence was thrown into the too-hard basket, both sides managed to rack-up a combined total of 66 points, an ironic number for the Bunnies considering their record defeat at the hands of New Zealand a fortnight ago. This time the points were more evenly divided on the ledger, with the Dragons pulling away in the final quarter of the game.
Things began ominously for the visitors after some great kicking by Dragons halfback Mat Head saw them skip out to a 10-point advantage in as many minutes with winger Brett Morris and centre Mark Gasnier claiming four-pointers.
The Rabbitohs struck back shortly after however, with tries to Nathan Merritt and John Sutton levelling the scores by the 27th minute of play.
From there it was punch-and-counterpunch as both teams traded tries with Dragons fullback Clint Greenshields scoring in the 35th minute before Souths levelled once more through hooker Stuart Webb only a minute later.
At that point it appeared the scores would be locked at 16-all at halftime but in a cruel blow for the Rabbitohs, stand-in Dragons winger Daryl Millard crossed in the final minute of the first half, extending the lead to 22-16 at the break.
Souths equalised eight minutes into the second half through burly winger Paul Mellor to put a fright into the Dragons? camp. But sensing an upset could be on the cards, Saints went up a gear, scoring tries through prop Charlie Leano (57th minute), Gasnier (63rd) and centre Matt Cooper (70th).
Sutton helped himself to a consolation try in the 73rd minute, rounding out one of his better efforts this season.
With the Dragons now moving into second place on the competition ladder courtesy of the win, they face Canterbury at Kogarah next Friday night. Even considering they are coming of the bye and were missing hard-working prop Luke Bailey, the Dragons will need to put in a much sharper effort against the Doggies next week.
The Rabbitohs remain in last position but put up a spirited effort and host the Sea Eagles at Homebush next Saturday night where they will search for their second victory of the year, with the wooden spoon firmly in their keeping once more.
St George Illawarra Dragons: 38
Tries: Matt Cooper, Mark Gasnier(2), Clint Greenshields, Daryl Millard, Brett Morris, Charles Leaneo
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 3/4, Mathew Head 2/3
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 28
Tries: John Sutton(2), Nathan Merritt, Paul Mellor, Stuart Webb
Goals: Ben Walker 4/5
Halftime: Dragons 22-16
By the Clock:
Cool but sunny day here at Kogarah Oval. The crowd has built steadily and you'd think it would be close to capacity.
Dragons - Colin Best is out of the game, Daryl Millard replaces him. Danny Wicks and Luke Bailey are also out of the game with Charlie Leano and Corey Payne replacing them. Ryles has been elevated to start the match.
Rabbitohs - As per the program.
1 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half.
5 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons open up the scoring with an early try to winger Brett Morris. The goal is missed by Aaron Gorrell.
9 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Saints cut them apart again with centre Mark Gasnier crossing for the second try of the day. Gorrell gets his first conversion of the day.
15 min: NEWS The Dragons are finding a few gaps in and around the rucks.
21 min: NEWS The Rabbitohs are starting to warm to the contest.
23 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies strike with a good try to prolific winger Nathan Merritt. Ben Walker fails to add the extras but they're on the board and putting up a fight.
27 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies are in again and should level the scores after John Sutton goes over next to the posts. Walker converts and the visitors are proving there's still plenty of pride in the jersey.
33 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons hit back beofre the break, scoring a try through plucky fullbak Clint Greenshields. Gorrell converts and the home side take a six-point margin.
35 min: NEWS The Dragons are enjoying more possession and making more yards with it. Both sides are also missing their fair share of tackles, whilst the Bunnies are making fewer handling errors.
36 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies hit back with only a few minutes left in the first half. Hooker Stuart Webb barges over from close range with Walker leveling the scores via the conversion.
40 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons put themselves ahead with a lucky try right on the break as the Bunnies just can't hold on. Replacement winger Daryl Millard crosses with Gorrell adding the extras.
40 min: NEWS Halftime: Well what a surprise here at Kogarah Oval with the Dragons just edging ahead at the break. They've certainly been given a fair fight by the Bunnies who are competing in all aspects of the game.
Whilst they're coming off the bye and missing a few strike players, the St George-Illawarra team should really be putting Souths to the sword and it's a credit to the Rabbitohs that they're putting up plenty of resistance after trailing 10-nil early.
A try right on halftime is always hard to take but unless the Dragons shift into a higher gear they'll struggle to put Souths away.
41 min: NEWS We've restarted here at Kogarah Oval.
45 min: NEWS The Bunnies are enjoying a little bit more possession and they're making better use of it at the moment. A few errors creeping into the Dragons' game as they dust out the cobwebs.
48 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Souths strike early in the second half through big winger Paul Mellor. Walker converts to level the scores once more as the Rabbitohs test out the Dragons' resolve.
55 min: NEWS No change to the score here with both teams working their way into an arm-wrestle.
57 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Barnstorming prop Charlie Leano crosses the line with a powerful run to push the Dragons ahead. Mat Head converts and the home team take a six-point advantage.
63 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons starting to gain control of the contest with Gasnier scoring his second try of the game. Head converts and the Dragons push ahead.
70 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons starting to pull away here with Matt Cooper crossing for their 7th try of the day. Head can't quite get there with the conversion.
73 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Sutton scores his second of the day as well, helping himself to a consolation try. Walker adds the extras but I don't think they can quite get there.
77 min: NEWS The Dragons look to have the match wrapped up here inside the final few minutes.
80 min: NEWS The Dragons complete an unconvincing victory over the Rabbitohs.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Mathew Head
2 - Mark Gasnier
1 - David Peachey