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A solid performance by St George Illawarra Dragons this afternoon over the NZ Warriors by 34 - 6 has placed a finals spot well and truly within their grasp.
Early in the match both sides seemed a little nervous with unforced errors showing maybe just a little pressure knowing a victory was important to both the sides.
It took almost twenty minutes into the match before any points were on the scoreboard courtesy of a brilliant combination play between Ben Hornby and Matt Cooper. Two minutes later and Josh Morris finished off some great team work by the Dragons.
The Warriors managed a bit of brilliance as well 4 minutes later with McKinnon crossing the line at pace following an impressive offload by Rapira.
The home side went into the break with a healthy 16-6 lead following a second try to centre Matt Cooper.
The Warriors, hoping to rectify their first half bumblings, looked to come out firing early in the 2nd half but were unable to shake the errors allowing the Dragons to grab the momentum along with confidence and run away easily with the match.
Further tries to Young, Nightingale and a 2nd for Morris helped to seal the fate of the Warriors this afternoon. Awesome defence by the Dragons allowed the visitors no joy at all as they kept the Warriors scoreless in the 2nd half.
The Dragons now face the Eels in Round 24, hoping to cement their Finals spot. The Warriors on the other hand host the Panthers next Sunday, clinging by a thread almost, to make the playoffs.
Match Details St George Illawarra Dragons 34 def New Zealand Warriors 6 Round 24 - Sunday August 24th, 2008 3:00pm Venue: WIN Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne Touch Judges: Paul Holland, Alan Shortall Video Referee: Paul Simpkins Halftime: Dragons 16 Warriors 6 Crowd: 11,583
St George Illawarra Dragons 34 Tries: Matt Cooper (2), Josh Morris (2), Dean Young, Jason Nightingale Goals: Mark Gasnier (5/6)
New Zealand Warriors 6 Tries: Wade McKinnon Goals: Michael Witt (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Matt Cooper (Dragons) 2 Points: Jason Ryles (Dragons) 1 Point: Mark Gasnier (Dragons)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
DRAGONS: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Wendell Sailor 3. Mark Gasnier (c) 4. Matt Cooper 5. Josh Morris 6. Ben Rogers7. Ben Hornby 8. Dan Hunt 9. Stuart Webb 10. Jason Ryles 11. Beau Scott 12. Ben Creagh 13. Dean Young Interchange: 14. Matt Prior 16. Lagi Setu 17. Ben Ellis 18. Kirk Reynoldson WARRIORS: 1. Wade McKinnon 2. Malo Solomona 3. Brent Tate 4. Jerome Ropati 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Michael Witt 7. Nathan Fien 8. Ruben Wiki (vc) 9. Ian Henderson 10. Steve Price (c) 11. Simon Mannering 12. Ben Matulino 13. Logan Swann Interchange: 14. Sonny Fai 15. Lance Hohaia 18. Sam Rapira 19. Evarn Tuimavave
Beautiful day at WIN Stadium for today's match as the teams take the field. Price and Wiki for the Warriors reach the 600 game milestone between them this afternoon.
1 min: Dragons kick off
2 min: Setu makes the 1st error in the match 40 metres out from the Warriors line
3 min: Mannering does a similar error as Setu, knocking on 10 metres out from the line.
6 min: Dragons hot on attack 30 metres out from their line. Hornby puts in a kick on the 2nd tackle but is too powerful and goes over the dead ball line.
9 min: A great kick to the in goal by Fein is picked up by Sailor, Tate stops him in his tracks but Sailor manages a pass in goal to Nightingale who is wrapped up.
10 min: Goal line dropout - Warriors
11 min: Mistake by Henderson nullifies any attack
12 min: Goal line dropout - Dragons. Great set by the Dragons with Rogers putting up a great little kick for Sailor to tap back to Cooper who sets up another set
13 min: Another mistake, this time by the Dragons on attack. A few nerves out there today
14 min: Sailor breaks thru along with Gasnier and rewarded with a penalty and great attacking options 30 metres out from their line.
15 min: Forward pass and another opportunity lost.
17 min: The Warriors discipline giving away silly penalties.
18 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Excellent play by Hornby and Cooper as the Dragons centre runs a superb angle at speed and goes unopposed under the posts Conversion attempt by Mark Gasnier successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
21 min: The Warriors scrum on the Dragons 20 metre mark results with a forward pass to the visitors. Great for the Dragons.
22 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons The Warriors pay for their silly errors as the Dragons spread the ball fast and quick with Morris across the line out wide. Conversion attempt by Mark Gasnier unsuccessful. St George Illawarra Dragons 10-0
26 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors The Warriors taking the ball up in a solid set. An offload by Rapira to a flying McKinnon 20 metres out sees the Warriors fullback finally over the line. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 10-6
29 min: The Warriors opening up the game as they start to spread the ball. The Dragons defence up with the plays.
32 min: The Warriors on the 5th tackle put the high ball up in goal but Sailor equal to the task with a fine catch.
33 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons The Dragons themselves open up the game spreading the ball and some precision passing sees Cooper in for his 2nd try of the day. Conversion attempt by Mark Gasnier successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 16-6
36 min: Two kicks on the fifth tackle for the Dragons but Dean Young misses the tackle restart call and kicks it straight to Vatuvei.
38 min: Scrum to the Warriors 40 metres out from their line following a forward pass, one of many seeping into this match.
39 min: Fifth tackle high kick for Vatuvei is contested by Gasnier who picks up the scraps.
40 min: Lost ball by Mannering and the Dragons attack 40 metres out.
HALFTIME: A bit of pressure out there with unforced errors by both sides. Both teams starting to open up. The Dragons will have the advantage of the wind in the 2nd half. Dragons lead 16-6 at the break.
41 min: 2nd half underway.
42 min: Early break by Hohaia, unfortunately the kick by Fein for Vatuvei is a shocker and goes out over the sideline, on the full.
44 min: Another offload by Rapira to a flying McKinnon nearly sees another try. Awesome defence by Gasnier stops him in tracks. 5th tackle and Mannering with two free players outside him, bombs a certain try by taking the ball himself.
47 min: The Warriors will all the attacking opportunities so far in this half, being let down by silly errors.
48 min: Another error by a Warriors player on the Dragons 5th tackle allows the home side attacking options 30 metres out from their line.
50 min: Nice little chip thru by Rogers almost results in a try as Ropati misses the ball. Luckily for the Warriors the kick was a little hard and goes dead.
54 min: Good defence by the two sides putting pressure on the attacks
55 min: Goal line dropout - Dragons. Nice grubber by Hornby to put pressure on Vatuvei.
56 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Excellent set by the Dragons as they have the scrambling defence on their knees. Young rewarded with the points. Conversion attempt by Mark Gasnier successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 22-6
59 min: Crowd figure for today - 11,583
60 min: Errors rate for the Warriors double that of the Dragons at 10-5.
62 min: Sailor with a fine game, loses the ball forward 20 metres out from the Warriors line.
63 min: The Warriors will a total lack of direction on attack rewarded with what they deserve, another mistake.
64 min: The Dragons turn for some attacking flair as they are given a penalty.
65 min: The bug has been caught as Morris knocks on out wide.
66 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Morris scores his 2nd in the match as an offload close to the ground by Gasnier allows the break thru the defence with Morris ready as always to grab the ball. Conversion attempt by Mark Gasnier successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 28-6
71 min: Once again the Warriors on attack have tried the long pass out wide, only to be called back for a forward pass, for about the 4th time. Not working today boys.
72 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Another fine try as Gasnier takes on Vatuvei, looks to be in touch, meanwhile flicks the ball behind his back inside to Nightingale who's lurking in support to score. Top try. Conversion attempt by Mark Gasnier successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 34-6
76 min: The Warriors get their 2nd penalty of the match but fail to find touch. The story of their day it seems.
77 min: The defence of the Dragons today has been outstanding as they smother the attack continuously and with force.
79 min: Another mistake by the Warriors gives the Dragons their last attacking option of the match right on halfway.
80 min: A mistake by the Dragons mimicking what the Warriors have been guilty of throughout the match.
80 min: Appropriate finish to the game with the Warriors on attack, a chip through by Fein for a storming Vatuvei only to dip out by a Dragons hand batting the ball dead.
FULLTIME: Deserving win to the Dragons. They keep their final berth well and truly open, brimming with confidence following their display today at WIN Stadium.