Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Jersey Flegg Grand Final St George Illawarra Dragons 30 def Parramatta Eels 20
Minor Premiers St George Illawarra Dragons have defeated the Parramatta Eels in the Jersey Flegg Grand Final by 30-20 this afternoon at Telstra Stadium.
The red hot favourites for the title didn?t get it easy though, with Parra throwing everything they had at them and leading at various stages of the game.
The Dragons opened up the game in fine fashion with a try to promising winger Tom Hewitt in the 6th minute following a beautifully worked backline move down the blindside on the eastern side of the field. The conversion from Josh Lewis was unsuccessful and from there the complexion of the game changed dramatically.
The Dragons became too casual in their approach and the Eels upped the tempo in the 17th minute with a good try to fullback and captain Michael Basan close to the line. They followed it up five minutes later with a sweeping backline movement that saw winger Simon Micallef score out wide and all of a sudden Parra lead 10-4 and thoughts of an upset began entering the players minds.
But St George Illawarra got out of jail two minutes before halftime when talented five-eighth Josh Lewis scooped up the ball after a kick-through wasn?t cleaned up by the Eels. The teams went to the sheds with the scores level at 10-apiece.
The resumption of play saw Parramatta once again surprise the Dragons when they posted a try two minutes into the second half. A well placed cross-field kick saw Krisnan Inu beat all-comers to the ball and push the lead out to 14-10.
The game then took a turn for the worse with scrappy play dominating for the next ten minutes or so before the Dragons struck back in the 48th minute again through Hewitt. Lewis chipped through and regathered before sending a bullet-like pass to the flashy winger who raced 30 metres to score in the corner despite the attention of Basan for Parra.
The Dragons looked in control from that point on, scoring the next two tries through prop Chris Houston and winger Jason Nightingale, opening up a 24-14 lead and it appeared the game was in their keeping.
But with seven minutes left the Eels rallied and a determined run from Weller Hauraki saw the big prop get over the line and with the conversion the scores poised at 24-20 we had a real contest on our hands.
With their season flashing before their eyes St George Illawarra hit back three minutes later with a try to centre Beau Ryan with lead-up work from Lewis once again a feature. He added the extras to cap off a man of the match performance and seal victory for the Dragons.
Scorers: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 30 Tries: Hewitt 2, Lewis, Houston, Nightingale, Ryan Goals: Lewis 3/6 PARRAMATTA EELS 20 Tries: Basan, Micallef, Inu, Hauraki Goals: Williams 2/4
Venue: Telstra Stadium Referee: Jason Robinson Halftime: 10-all.
And we're underway here at Homebush in the first final of the day.
The Dragons kick-off on the sun drenched field.
6 min: TRY - Dragons. The red and whites open up the scoring through winger Tom Hewitt who ran onto a clever blindside play. Conversion unsuccessful. Dragons 4 Eels 0.
14 min: NEWS - Lewis for the Dragons kicks out on the full and presents the Eels with a good opportunity.
17 min: TRY - Eels. Captain Michael Basan gets a great short ball close to the line and he bursts through the line. Conversion successful.
20 min: NEWS - Some scrappy play from the Dragons up the middle of the ruck sees a turnover. The minor premiers don't appear to be in rhythm just yet.
22 min: TRY - Eels. Simon Micallef goes over in the corner for Parra as they put together a great backline move. Could an upset be on the cards? Conversion from out wide unsuccessful. Eels 10 Dragons 4.
28 min: NEWS - Dragons grass an opportunity to put some points on the board with poor handling.
32 min: NEWS - A failed attempt at field goal by Eels five-eighth Blake Green.
33 min: TRY - Dragons. The Eels fail to clean up a grubber 20m out from their line and Josh Lewis swoops on the pill and scores. Conversion successful. Eels 10 Dragons 10.
Halftime: The Dragons started and finished the first half well but the middle part of the game was dominated by the Eels. An upset looked like a real possibility around the 25 minute mark and still could be with the scores level here. I'm sure the Dragons coach Steve Price will have a few things to say during the break and a better effort will be seen.
And the Eels get the game rolling in the second half...this will be a cracking 35 minutes of footy!
37 min: TRY - Eels. Parra get things moving early with a great try to Krisnan Inu who flew high above the Dragons outside backs to take a cross-field kick. The conversion from Williams hits the post. Eels 14 Dragons 10.
47 min: NEWS - The heat seems to be taking a fair toll on the Dragons. Parra has all the momentum at this point.
48 min: TRY - Dragons. A fantastic run-away try here to the Dragons. Josh Lewis chips over the top and fires a bullet-like pass to winger Tom Hewitt who goes like a rocket for the corner and scores. Try of the match so far. Conversion unsuccessful and we're all locked up again. Eels 14 Dragons 14.
51 min: TRY - Dragons. And they're on fire now. Prop Chris Houston barges over next to the posts from close range to take the lead. Conversion successful. Dragons 20 Eels 14.
52 min: NEWS - Parra kick out on the full from the restart.
57 min: TRY - Dragons. Lewis hoists a ball and Jason Nightingale flies high to post another try. They're right on top now. Conversion unsuccessful. Dragons 24 Eels 14.
61 min: NEWS - replacement Scott Jones held up over the line for Parra after a good dart out from dummy half.
63 min: TRY - Eels. A determined run from Weller Hauraki gets him over the line. Conversion successful and we've got a real game on our hands here. Dragons 24 Eels 20.
66 min: TRY - Dragons. Josh Lewis carves up in the centre of the field and kicks through into the in-goal area for Beau Ryan to score. Great try and they look like they've got home. Conversion successful. Dragons 30 Eels 20.
Fulltime: The minor premiers and red hot favourites St George Illawarra Dragons have overcome Parramatta Eels to win the Jersey Flegg Grand Final by 30-20.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - J Lewis (Dragons) 2 - T Hewitt (Dragons) 1 - M Basan (Eels) -----------------------------------------