Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
6 hours ago
The St George Illawarra Dragons Premier League side has got its 2006 Premiership campaign off to a flyer with a convincing 32-4 win over Western Suburbs at Telstra Stadium tonight.
Boasting no less than nine members of last years Jersey Flegg winning side, the Dragons played like 2005 never finished crossing for 6 tries.
With former Flegg coach Steve Price at the helm, the likes of George Ndaira, Lee Te Maari and Tom Hewitt ran riot, clearly showing that a first grade call up may not be too far away.
The Dragons night got off to the best possible start when 2005 Jersey Flegg player of the year Tom Haberecht crossed out wide after just four minutes. With thanks to some quality second phase play, the strapping back rower was too strong from close range. Sharks import Reece Blayney converted from touch.
The red and white wall was called upon for the first time in ?05 a short time later. Much to the delight of Coach Price, the wall refused to yield. The Magpies enjoyed four consecutive sets of six but came away empty handed.
Flush on the 20 minute mark, the Dragons extended their lead to ten after Tom Hewitt finished off some crafty lead up work from Ndaira. The little number 9, seemingly at home at the next level.
Two sets of six later the Dragons form was resembling that of last September. After some razzle dazzle football, Aaron Wheatley crossed adjacent to the sticks. This time it was Te Maari who took the line on and popped the final ball onto the lock forwards chest. Blayney made no mistakes with the conversion, taking his sides tally to 14.
With just minutes remaining in the first half, Ndaira all but put the match beyond doubt after crossing for a well deserved four pointer. Only 20 metres out from the line, the hooker threw a plethora of dummies, put on some footwork and found his way to the stripe, despite the attention of five defenders. The ingenious effort put the Dragons convincing 20-0 leaders at the break.
Picking up from where they left off, St George Illawarra crossed for try number five.
Once again it was TeMaari who made the initial bust. The impressive number 12 brushed defenders on his own 40 and took off downfield. Drawing the fullback to perfection TeMaari offloaded to a flying Hewitt who crossed for his second. Blayney converted for match winning 26 point lead.
Wests hooker Isaac De Gois put one back on his opposite number by scoring his sides only four pointer.
With the match over, handling errors became somewhat of a concern for the red and whites. Playing with such confidence, the odd pass began to miss the mark.
With ten minutes to go, the Dragons managed one more smooth passage of play which resulted in Brett Morris diving over. Blayney converted from next to the posts to seal the 32-4 win.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 32 (T HEWITT 2, T HABERECHT, A WHEATLEY, G NDAIRA, B MORRIS TRIES ; R BLAYNEY 4 GOALS) d. WESTERN SUBURBS MAGPIES 4 ( I DE GOIS TRY)
Caption: George Ndaira ? Dangerous at dummy half.