Dragons thrash Rabbits for first win of 2006

Fulltime score:
Round 3
St George Illawarra Dragons 44 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 14

Match summary:

The St George Illawarra Dragons have today flexed their potential premiership muscles with a majestic 44-14 victory over a hapless South Sydney outfit at the Rabbitohs? new home of Telstra Stadium.

South Sydney started the stronger of the two sides, and had an 8-6 lead after half an hour of play and it looked as though we were to be treated to a close one after Nathan Merritt?s 28th minute try.

But the Dragons came up with three blows, the third being the knockout one, in the 10 minute period leading into halftime. Daryl Millard, playing in just his second career game was the first of those try-scorers after a beautiful pass from captain Trent Barrett. Subsequent four-pointers to Aaron Gorrell and Colin Best ensured the Dragons weren?t going to let this one slip through their fingers and went in with a match-securing 26-8 lead at the break.

The Dragons kept the foot on the accelerator after halftime. Mark Gasnier crossed for the first of his three tries just three minutes into the second half, and at that stage it was quite obvious that the Dragons were about to claim their first win in season 2006.

The match hit a lull somewhat midway through the second half, with both sides producing a comedy of errors. Gasnier came back to the party late in the match with two late tries to change the status of the victory from comprehensive to blowout.

Nathan Merritt scored a consolation try for Souths right on the fulltime hooter, the Dragons running out winners 44 points to 14.

South Sydney will be disappointed with the way things went pear-shaped from the 30th minute onwards. Their position is not improved with the news that Stuart Webb, Yileen Gordon, and Manase Manuokafoa have all been placed on report. And looking at all three of those incidents, things don?t look good for those players on the judiciary front. They meet the Sharks at Toyota Park next Saturday afternoon.

St George Illawarra put in a more impressive performance in attack today, coming away with their first victory in 2006. Good news and bad to come out of this one for the Dragons, Ben Creagh and Matt Cooper are poised for a return next week in their clash with the Broncos at WIN Stadium next Sunday. But unfortunately for the Dragons, Jason Ryles has a suspected broken hand and more news will come out of that prospect during the week.

South Sydney Rabbitohs: 14
Tries: Yileen Gordon, Shane Rigon, Nathan Merritt
Goals: Nathan Merritt 1/3
St George Illawarra Dragons: 44
Tries: Colin Best, Mark Gasnier(3), Aaron Gorrell, Ben Hornby, Daryl Millard
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 8/8

Venue: Telstra Stadium
Crowd: 16,049
Referee: Jason Robinson
Half time: Dragons 26-8

Live commentary:

Sunshine beaming down onto the field here at Homebush in what looks certain to be a cracking contest between the Rabbitohs and the Dragons.

Team changes (Dragons): Andrew Price comes onto the bench for Aaron Wheatley.
South Sydney are as per the program.

And we're underway in the first half! The Bunnies kick-off.

4 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Buddy Gordon opens the scoring for Souths after a simple run-around and dummy from Rigon creates some space for the young centre. Attempted conversion from Merritt fails.
Rabbitohs 4-0

11 min: NEWS Both teams sorting themselves out here. Plenty of open play at the moment promising an entertaining affair.

14 min: NEWS Greenshields makes a mess of a bomb in goal, presenting a good attacking opportunity for the Bunnies.

19 min: NEWS A bit scrappy here at the moment. Both sides are making a few mistakes and the Dragons completion rate is poor.

22 min: NEWS Stuart Webb on report for a high shot on Clint Greenshields.

23 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Great try here with Justin Poore taking the ball to the line and flicking it out the back to Hornby who finds Best lurking midfield. Gorrell converts and the Dragons lead.
Dragons 6-4

24 min: NEWS Buddy Gordon struggling out wide, seems he's taken a bit of a knock to the head.

28 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
A cheeky try here to Rigon after Merritt appeared to go to ground with the ball before slipping a miracle pass from under the defence, finding Sutton who offloads to Rigon out wide. Merritt misses a relatively easy one.
Rabbitohs 8-6

31 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
A mistake from Jaiman Lowe turns possession over to the Dragons in good field position. Barrett fires a pass to Millard who strolls over out wide. Gorrell converts and the Dragons hit back almost straight away.
Dragons 12-8

35 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Another turn-over in Souths territory sees the Dragons with the ball in good position. Gorrell scoots out of acting half and manages to bustle his way over the line next to the sticks. Pretty soft stuff from the Bunnies who have crumbled in the last 10 minutes. Gorrell converts his own try.
Dragons 18-8

37 min: NEWS Buddy Gordon and David Fa'alogo on report for a high tackle on Micheal Henderson. This one doesn't look real good and the Dragons are lining up a penalty goal.

38 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Gorrell adds another two courtesy of the penalty from the high shot.
Dragons 20-8

40 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons pile on another try despite a question mark over an obstruction to John Sutton. Gorrell adds the extras.
Dragons 26-8

A disappointing back-end of the half from Souths, who looked very competitive for 25-30 minutes. Some soft tries have almost played them out of the game here at halftime, with some extraordinary work needed to dig them out of the fire. The Dragons look competent, but not great and have made many mistakes throughout. This first half should give them the confidence necessary to roll the Bunnies however.

Second half underway at Telstra Stadium

43 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Floodgates opening now very early on in the second half, with Dragons centre Mark Gasnier running onto a classy cross-field ball from a seemingly rejuvenated Trent Barrett to cross for another try.
Dragons 32-8

50 min: NEWS Still no change to the score at Telstra, the Dragons still holding a 32-8 lead. Souths have allowed mistakes to creep into their game which have cost them dearly, both sides really only playing out time now with the result a foregone conclusion.

53 min: NEWS Clint Greenshields down injured after a collision with Shannon Hegarty. We will update you as more information comes to hand on the injury. Still 32-8 to the Dragons with no sign of a comeback happening here.

57 min: NEWS Greenshields appears to have recovered from the collision with Hegarty. 32-8 the score remains.

60 min: NEWS Crowd 16,049.

61 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Gasnier pounces on a loose ball and out-sprints Hegarty from 90 metres out to score under the posts. A disappointing finish to this match for Souths after a positive start.
Dragons 38-8

68 min: NEWS The score remains the Dragons 38 South Sydney 8. Bothy sides seem to have their eyes on the clock right now. The Dragons will get their first win of 2006 here.

71 min: TRY St George Illawarra
Shocking defence from John Sutton and Shannon Hegarty close to their own line, and Mark Gasnier scores a simple try from dummy-half to cap off a hat-trick.
Dragons 44-8

80 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Nathan Merritt scores a consolation try right on the siren for Souths, the Dragons running out winners by 44 points to 14 in a commanding performance.
Dragons 44-14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Mark Gasnier
2 - Dean Young
1 - Trent Barrett