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Dragons Premier League roll on
after scrappy win
St George Illawarra?s Premier League side has survived into next week with a come from behind heart stopping 24-20 semi final victory over the Western Suburbs Magpies at Aussie Stadium tonight.
The Dragons trailed 20-12 with just 11 minutes remaining before skipper Dean Byrne orchestrated a comeback to catapult the red and whites into a grand final qualifier against the Canberra Raiders.
Byrne scored twice in the dying stages, the first after backing up centre John Wilshere and the match winner just six minutes from time.
Byrne jinked and stepped his way through from a scrum win to secure the Dragons victory and push his personal match tally to 16 points.
Mick Potter was far from impressed with the win but he was relieved.
?It was a tough one and at one stage I thought they were struggling,? Potter admitted.
?Their body language wasn?t good and they were looking down the barrel of defeat but the feedback I was getting was all positive.?
?Dean Byrne virtually won us the game but a lot of blokes had to work hard to get us down there and Byrne put the icing on the cake.?
With minor premiers Canberra next week Potter admitted plenty of improvement was needed.
?If we play like that next week we?ll get beat by 30,? he said candidly.
?We need to improve our marker play, our speed at the line and play the balls and also our kicking game.?
?We were poor in all those areas meaning we missed plenty of opportunities.?
Prolific scorer John Olzard gave the Magpies an early lead with a seventh minute penalty goal before Chris Nero grabbed the lead for the Dragons after 18 minutes.
Nero dived on a select Byrne grubber to give the red and whites a 6-2 buffer.
Justin Poore proved the catalyst for the Dragons second try just 10 minutes later when he busted the Magpies wide open and then provided Damien Bower with a great ball while under heavy attention.
But the Magpies hit back through Liam Fulton when Reece Simmonds failed to clean up a fairly innocuous kick cleanly and a quick play the ball saw Fulton receive a pass that looked forward before diving over.
A try to fullback Luke Duffy six minutes after the break pushed Wests back in front 14-12 and when Trent Clayton broke though from over halfway and fended off Simmonds to score things looked dire at 20-12.
But Byrne?s two four pointers were enough to keep the Dragons premiership dreams alive.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 24 (D Byrne 2, C Nero, D Bower tries; D Byrne 4 goals) d. WESTERN SUBURBS MAGPIES 20 (L Fulton, L Duffy, T Clayton tries; J Olzard 4 goals)