The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The St George Illawarra Dragons Jersey Flegg side has earned themselves the week off in the semi finals after trouncing the Balmain Tigers 44-4 at a greasy WIN Stadium tonight.
In what was a typically dominating performance, the all conquering minor premiers proved far too tough for a Tigers outfit who scraped into the eight last week thanks to favourable results.
Leading 32 - 0 at the break, the only concern for the Dragons was the fact that they only managed another two tries in the second half, but considering the wet conditions, still showed plenty of skill.
Lee Temaari and Josh Morris both grabbed doubles, while the halves combination of Josh Lewis and Jaime Keith continued to play with a level of maturity well beyond their years.
Off to a flyer, the home side put on four tries in the first 20 minutes, with all the usual suspects involved.
Back rower TeMaari was the first to cross for the red and whites after receiving a short ball close to the Tigers line. Then amidst pouring rain, Josh Lewis and James Grehan scored, with TeMaari also crossing for number two after making a host of Balmain defenders look very ordinary. By the time the majority of the crowd had put their second arm through their raincoats, the Dragons led 22 - 0.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the storm front refused to drift into the Pacific.
With 15 minutes left in the half, Josh Morris proved to be 'slippery' after evading up to five Tigers defenders as well as the sideline to cross for the Dragons fifth. Lewis converted and the match was as good as over.
Just five minutes later Jason Nightingale got into the point scoring act.
Camped in the Tigers red zone, Keith shifted the ball right along the attacking line to Grehan. The centre linked up with Nightingale on his outside and despite the attention of three defenders and the white chalk of the sideline, just walked over the line in a soft effort.
Thankfully for the Tigers, the sanctity of the sheds finally came around with no further damage to the scoreboard. The visitors limped into the break with their tails between their legs, 32-0 behind.
Amazingly it took the Dragons ten minutes to cross the stripe in the second half, but for the blossoming crowd, it was worth the wait.
On the fifth tackle, Lewis put in a precision chip over the top and found a flying Morris who collected the ball inches inside the in goal.
To the visitors credit, the Dragons were kept quiet for the next twenty five minutes. It took hooker George Ndaira a scrappy dive over effort from dummy half to score the home sides eighth and final try.
Balmain winger Keith Eshman scored a consolation try late in the match, but it was way too late.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 44 ( L TeMaari 2, J Morris 2, J Lewis, J Grehan, J Nightingale, G Ndaira tries;
J Lewis 6 goals) d. BALMAIN TIGERS 4 ( K Eshman try)
Meanwhile at Brookvale Oval, the St George Illawarra Premier League side demolished the third placed Manly Sea Eagles 52 - 12. The ten try blitz would now have plenty higher ranked sides in the finals looking over their shoulders.