Dragons purge Storm demons with cold WIN

The St. George Illawarra Dragons have reversed the frustration of their loss to the Melbourne Storm earlier this season, overcoming their opposition 24-12 tonight at a freezing WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

After falling short after the siren in the first meeting between the sides, the Dragons had a point to prove and shot to an early lead through tries to Josh Dugan and Gareth Widdop. With the wind at their backs it was all the hosts early, before a Billy Slater special delivered the Storm back into the contest midway through the half. It stayed 10-6 til the halftime siren, with an injury scare to Josh Dugan prior to the break sending worries through the St. George Illawarra camp.

Those worries proved unfounded as the Dragons surged on in the second half - a pulsating opening where both teams had good opportunities eventually fell the way of the home side with Mitch Rein scoring in the 53rd minute off a deflected Benji Marshall grubber. They backed this up with fifteen minutes remaining when Josh Dugan found a sublime offload for Jason Nightingale to crash over, then sealed the deal with Charly Runciman scoring in the final ten minutes.

After the Runciman try, the Storm came back hard and looked set for a late rush on the Dragons when Kurt Mann scored with five remaining, but it was too little too late. The Dragons' victory sees them leapfrog the Gold Coast Titans on for-and-against, lifting them to 12th position on the NRL table.

Next week the Dragons have their second home game within five days, hosting the Cowboys at Kogarah on Saturday evening. The Storm will welcome their second bye of the season ahead of the third Origin match, before hosting the Bulldogs at AAMI Park the following weekend.


Match Details
St. George Illawarra Dragons 24 Melbourne Storm 12
Venue: WIN Stadium
Crowd: 10117
Halftime Score: St. George Illawarra Dragons 10 Melbourne Storm 6

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Gareth Widdop
2 points - Benji Marshall
1 point - Josh Dugan

ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (24)
Tries: Josh Dugan, Gareth Widdop, Mitch Rein, Jason Nightingale, Charly Runciman
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (2/5)

MELBOURNE STORM (12)
Tries: Billy Slater, Kurt Mann
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

LATE MAIL | The team changes are in - just some basic ones for each side, but both are significant - the Storm have Will Chambers available in Jersey 24, replacing Young Tonumaipea on the wing. Bryan Norrie will drop to the bench with Jordan McLean starting at prop. The Dragons lose Dan Hunt from the bench to make way for Trent Merrin's appearance in jersey #25.

3: Gareth Widdop with the first meaningful break of the game, he's bought down by Billy Slater but the Dragons will be on the attack here.

4: Drop-out Storm, Dragons get a repeat set.

5: Now a penalty for the Dragons... plenty of pressure building here!

6: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Josh Dugan. Kick to come.

Dugan flies in down the right side, off a superb ball by Benji Marshall!

7: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop's attempt is waved away.

11: Storm pushed into touch in the far corner, Dragons 20m restart.

12: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Leeson Ah Mau makes an unforced error.

Ah Mau spills it early in the count, pressure on the Dragons now with a Storm scrum feed.

15: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Gareth Widdop. Kick to come.

Benji switches the play on the last, curling the ball to Widdop who kicks ahead, the ball bounces freakishly in front of Slater and Widdop is able to reclaim it for a superb individual try!

16: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop has the radar on track this time, converting to push the Dragons' lead to ten.

20: Storm push up the park with some good metres but Gerard Beale is safe under the high ball on this occasion. Both sides with some decent general play kicks so far.

22: Again Melbourne find themselves in attacking territory on the last... we're going up to the VIDEO REFEREE! Waqa is over but the on-field referee isn't confident, he's crossed the arms.

23: NO TRY indeed - Waqa has dropped it in attempting to get it down. Dragons 20m restart

26: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Billy Slater. Kick to come.

Slater sends Will Chambers into a comfortable gap down the right edge, Chambers draws the defenders and finds his fullback backing up in support.

27: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Smith nails the extras for the Storm's first of the day.

32: Lots of long kicking, both sides putting it deep and testing the men at the back. Only notable error a Benji high ball that Slater made go out on the full.

37: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Leeson Ah Mau makes an unforced error.

Oops, Leeson did it again. He's coughed it up in dangerous territory close to halftime. Pressure on the Saints again here.

39: Melbourne penalised for an obstruction whilst attacking the Dragons' line. Cameron Smith protests but the ruling is made and the Dragons kick long for touch for one more shot at the line before the break.

40: Injury scare for Josh Dugan, clutching his ankle. Didn't look good initially but he's up and limping. Halftime though now - Dragons up 10-6.

41: Second half begins with Dragons getting it first.

43: Ben Creagh in the wars early in the second half, big cut on the head, referee has asked him to change jersey.

44: Gerard Beale penalised for impeding Billy Slater's attempt to take a bomb. Pity for the Dragons as they would have scored...

48: Errors at both ends, neither side able to properly execute a last tackle play.

51: Cameron Smith with a near 40/20... just not quite enough.

53: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Mitch Rein. Kick to come.

Benji grubbers it through, it ricochets off Ben Roberts and Mitch Rein stumbles over the line after cleaning up the scraps.

54: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

The wind puts a freakish curl on this one but Widdop has managed to keep it just inside the left upright.

57: Official crowd of 10,117 on a freezing Monday night in Wollongong.

61: Storm go on the attack but the Dragons are up to the task. Rein scoops up the ball on the last tackle.

63: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Sisa Waqa makes an unforced error.

Sisa Waqa gives it up out wide. Horrible error.

64: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Dugan runs at the defenders out wide and finds a great offload for Nightingale to put the Dragons further ahead.

65: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop moves in, the wind will carry this... across the face. Very difficult conditions.

67: Dugan's finger dislocated in offloading for that last try. Ouch. He's still on the park though, tough stuff.

69: Trent Merrin with a fantastic pickup on the line, almost a cricket slip style effort from the big man!

70: Fonua's charged at buy Dugan off an odd cross-field grubbing kick, Dragons have it back six more inside the Storm half!

71: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Charly Runciman. Kick to come.

Huge cutout pass by Widdop to Runciman and he's over in the corner. Dragons will get the biscuits tonight!

72: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop has it on-line but the wind means it goes nowhere near the posts.

74: Mahe Fonua is down after what looks like a high shot from Leeson Ah Mau.

74: Fonua goes off, doesn't look 100%. Storm penalty for the high shot.

75: Jack de Belin penalised for a lifting tackle. Storm on the attack. They'll have to score here to have any outside chance of snaring a miracle win...

76: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Kurt Mann. Kick to come.

Mann scores out wide off a Roberts grubber. Could it happen again?

76: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Smith has the conversion successful - upright... crossbar... NAILED IT! Important points if they want to push for golden point...

78: Storm go right up the park but desperate defence from the hosts stops the attack in it's tracks. The Red V now advance up the ground.

79: One last attacking chance is a dud for the Storm, it's grubbered short and de Belin picks it up.

80: That's all she wrote, no siren shenanigans this time around. Saints move up the ladder to 12th.

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