Dragons win thriller against
courageous Sharks

Fulltime score: Finals 2005 - Week 1 DRAGONS 28 v SHARKS 22 Match summary: The St George Illawarra Dragons have defeated a courageous Cronulla Sharks outfit 28-22 at a wet WIN stadium in front of a ground record crowd of 19,608 in the 3rd Quarter Final. The loss means that the Cronulla Sharks season has ended, as has the career of David Peachey and Jason Stevens in the NRL. The Dragons have now earned a spot in the Preliminary final in two weeks time as well as a week off next week.

The game kicked off with the Sharks getting the upper hand early on, resulting in a good try to young Beau Scott coming from a Brett Kimmorley kick. A successful conversion from Luke Covell gave the Sharks a six point lead early on. The Dragons however didn?t look like a team who had won their last seven straight, with bad passes going to ground and putting their play makers under pressure.

The Dragons did hit back in the 18th minute when a clever kick from five eighth and Captain Trent Barrett sent former Shark Colin Best over untouched. With Michael Ennis starting off the field, Wes Naiqama again had the kicking duties and missed with his attempt. The Sharks went into half time with a lead of two points but looked like the much better team in the first half, the Dragons were lucky to only be down by 6-4 at the break.

The second half started with a big hit from Ben Hornby on departing Sharks centre Paul Mellor. But the Sharks made the bigger hit at the start of the second half on the score board, with David Simmons scoring a scrappy yet important try for the Sharks.

Then the sleeping giant awoke. The Dragons got some field position, their forwards were getting over the advantage line with quick play the balls, resulting in tries to Colin Best and Dean Young. Some good work from Shaun Timmins minutes later got Trent Barrett over the line and the Dragons suddenly held a 22-12 lead.

But the Sharks hit back with a try to Nigel Vagana and brought back the margin to four points. The match winner came from winger Wes Naiqama when the Dragons ran the ball on last play, Dean Young throwing a magical pass to the winger to score out wide. Michael Ennis who has been a real find in the goal kicking department, slotted a beautiful conversion from the sideline to continue his 100% strike rate for the night.

Paul Gallen got over for a late try but the result was academic with the Dragons winning a hard fought contest at WIN stadium.

Dean Young was the best player on the field tonight, with him having probably his best game in first grade. Young topped the tackle count, he put in some great left foot kicks, and he scored a try and had a hand in a few as well. Michael Ennis came on and was a constant danger out of dummy half, while Captain Barrett steered the team well.

For the Sharks Nigel Vagana was superb, with him being excellent in defence and getting his hands on the ball more often. Brett Kimmorley had one of his better games this season, while Danny Nutley and Beau Scott were solid in a losing side.

Dragons v Sharks match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game

Scorers: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 28 Tries: C.Best 2, D.Young, T.Barrett, W.Naiqama Goals: W.Naiqama 0/1 M.Ennis 4/4 CRONULLA SHARKS 22 Tries: B.Scott, D.Simmons, N.Vagana, P.Gallen Goals: L.Covell 3/4

WIN Stadium Crowd: 19,608 Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Sharks 6-4

Live commentary: Welcome to WIN stadium for the 3rd Quarter final between the St George Illawarra coming up against the Cronulla Sharks in a local derby. It?s sudden death for the Sharks while the Dragons are playing for a week off next week if they come out on top tonight. Some late team news for the Cronulla Sharks with Nigel Vagana being moved to five eight, Beau Scott into the centre position and Adam Dykes being relegated to the interchange. Michael Sullivan and Cameron Ciraldo have dropped of the extended bench. The Dragons are as per program. Rain has been pouring down in Wollongong and could be a factor in the how the contest is decided.

Kick OFF!

0 min: Brett Kimmorley gets the 3rd Quarter Final under way

3 min: Strong start from the Sharks and have got a line drop out after a well placed kick from Brett Kimmorley.

9 min: A chance gone begging for Luke Covell who had a open run to the try line however just lost the ball in front of the line. However the Sharks are looking on top at the moment, and are on the attack yet again following a Dragon error.

12 min: TRY - Sharks Brett Kimmorley lays on a great cross field kick for Luke Covell who takes it then passes it out for young Scott to score the try Conversion successful for Luke Covell. 6-0 Sharks

15 min: The Dragons are not playing to the conditions, with another forward pass from dummy half. Sharks again in great field position.

18 min: TRY - Dragons Trent Barrett puts in a lovely chip kick for former Shark Colin Best for him to score out wide. Conversion is wide from Naiqama 6-4 Sharks

19 min: From the kick off Jason Ryles puts a foot on the line while picking up the ball. Sharks will get the ball from a goal line drop out.

28 min: Adam Dykes has entered the game and looks to have returned to the five eight position. Nigel Vagana has moved out to right centre. 6-4 Sharks

33 min: The Sharks are playing great finals football. Kimmorleys kicking game is on song and gets another repeat set for his team.

39 min: Some great scrambling defence from the Sharks led by Nigel Vagana holds up Naiqama over the try line then takes him into touch.

HALFTIME: Halftime at WIN stadium with the Sharks leading the Dragons 6-4.

What a half from the Cronulla Sharks. Their defence is moving up, hitting hard and they are getting 4-5 players in most tackles which is frustrating the Dragons which if causing the Dragons to make errors. Nigel Vagana and Beau Scott have been great in defence marking up on the dangerous centers from the Dragons. Brett Kimmorley?s kicking game is great and the chases on the kicks are even better. The Dragons are not playing well in the conditions, and they are making some uncharacteristic errors with the football. A big half of football needed here from the Dragons if they are to win this, because the Sharks are playing well and playing for their season.

40 min: Dragons kick off for the second half

43 min: Ben Hornby hammers Paul Mellor. The game being played at a fast pace and a lot of big hits from the forward in particular.

45 min: TRY - Sharks A extraordinary try to David Simmons. The ball was on the ground, David Peachey toes it ahead, Greenshields loses the ball which was picked up by a Sharks player who then got it out to David Simmons for a free run to the try line. Conversion successful from Luke Covell. 12-4 Sharks

48 min: TRY - Dragons Colin Best grabs a double against his old club after some errors from the Sharks. Michael Ennis conversion is a beauty. 12-10 Sharks

51 min: 40/20 Kick Trent Barrett kicks a great 40/20. The momentum is changing in the match with the Dragons having the upper hand now.

53 min: TRY - Dragons Dean Young hits a lovely line running of a Trent Barrett pass isolating the smaller Sharks defender. The Dragons are breathing fire at the moment and the Sharks are struggling to stop them. Dragons hit the lead for the first time in the match. Conversion from Ennis is good. 16-12 Dragons

56 min: TRY - Dragons Trent Barrett is on the receiving end of a great offload from Shaun Timmins putting him under the black dot. Michael Ennis converts. 22-12 Dragons

59 min: An error from Luke Bailey gives the Sharks a great attacking opportunity.

60 min: Galloway coughs up the ball in a great attacking position. The Sharks are out of sorts at the moment and need a big play from someone to get them back in to this game.

66 min: TRY - Sharks Adam Dykes goes for a barge over close to the line, he then throws the ball between his legs, Peachey again toes it through and Vagana dives on the ball to grab the try. Conversion is good from Luke Covell. Game on at WIN Stadium!

68 min: INJURY - Dragons Jason Ryles has left the field with a cork to the leg. Nothing serious and should be back for the final few minutes.

72 min: Sharks moving up a gear in the final few minutes. They are fighting for their season, and they aren?t going to die wondering.

CROWD - 19,608 at WIN stadium (Ground Record)

74 min: TRY - Dragons After a error from Danny Nutley, the Dragons run it on last tackle with Dean Young throwing a beauty to Wes Naiqama for him to score out wide. Conversion is another cracker from Michael Ennis. 28-18 Dragons

78 min: TRY - Sharks Paul Gallen scores right in the corner to give the Sharks some hope of keeping their season alive. Some Argy Bargy from the boys to finish off the match. Nigel Vagana pushes the marker over prior to the try with it being unnoticed. Conversion is wide from Covell 28-22 Sharks

80 min: Kimmorley puts in a cross field kick in his own half caught by Simmons, but the Dragons diffuse the attack and come up with the win.

Dragons win a great match at WIN stadium! The Sharks season is over but they ended on a great note with them fighting for the whole 80 minutes. The Dragons have won the match and won themselves a week off in the second week of the finals. A courageous effort from the Sharks but they bid us fare well in the 2005 NRL season. Dean Young, Michael Ennis and Trent Barrett were fantastic for the home team, while Nigel Vagana, Brett Kimmorley and Danny Nutley were excellent for the Sharks.

----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Young (Dragons) 2 - N Vagana (Sharks) 1 - M Ennis (Dragons) -----------------------------------------