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Strikes Twice For Dragons Premier League
The St George Illawarra Premier League side has clawed back from an 18 point half time deficit to claim their second draw of the season, 28 all, against Souths Juniors at the SCG today.
A converted Corey Maher try with a minute to go sealed an incredible draw for the Dragons who outscored their rivals 18 nil in the second half.
After the Dragons ran out convincing winners over the Rabbitohs in round 9, the home side put in a much improved effort, but it was St George Illawarra who played the better football at the back end.
The draw still keeps the Premier League side within two points of eighth spot.
With Souths Juniors sitting only one point in front of the Dragons on the Premier League table, the visitors had a golden opportunity to make a move in this years competition.
The early signs were looking very positive for the Dragons with the front row of Maher and big Charlie Laeano streaming onto the ball with great gusto, consistently denting the Rabbitohs line.
It only took the Dragons three minutes to get on the board through centre, come back rower, Brett Kelly. After a strong start to the year, including a run on birth in the Charity Shield, Kelly has missed most of the season through injury. In first run on match for some weeks the centre showed a clean pair of heels to put his side up early.
Just five minutes later, the Dragons had the visitors under siege. With plenty of possession at the right end of the field, former Rabbitoh Shane Marteene extended the lead to 10. The centre who jumped ship to the Dragons mid season was on the end of a lovely back line movement.
But with Souths Juniors boasting plenty of first grade talent, it wasn't long before the home side found themselves back in the game and in command.
With Joe Williams arguably playing his best game in a Souths jersey for some time, the little number 7 sparked an epic comeback.
Flush on the fifteen minute mark, a magic Williams cut out ball found the chest of unmarked winger Nathan Ford who cantered over the stripe to put his side back in touch. Williams' sideline conversion made the margin only four.
Only five minutes later Williams put on a replica play, but this time on the right side of the field. His cut out ball found the out stretched arms of Joven Clarke who burrowed low under the arm of Nick Youngquest to score. Williams then piloted another conversion over the black dot from the sideline to put his side in front by two.
From that point on in the half, Souths Juniors looked far the stronger. With a plethora of possession, the Rabbitohs put on three more tries, with replacement back Matt Brinkley scoring twice. The Dragons seemed to have no answer for Souths Juniors expansive brand of football.
Come the half time siren, the visitors found themselves behind 28-10 and with plenty of work ahead of them.
The second half saw a more intense effort from the Dragons, but poor execution continued to cause problems.
But continuous possession to the visitors eventually took its toll on the Rabbitohs. Once again, it was their former team mate Marteene doing the damage. The centre three-quarter was on the end of a crisp back line movement, touching down out wide. Daniel Holdsworth's side line conversion closed the gap to 12.
The next 15 minutes of the half turned into an arm wrestle perched between the twenties. With time increasingly becoming the Dragons enemy, it was Holdsworth who took it upon himself to get his side back in it.
With only 10 minutes to go and the visitors camped on Souths Juniors line, Holdsworth threw a gem of a dummy and brushed passed two to score. The five-eighth converted his own try to make the score 28-22.
Now coming home with the wet sail, the Dragons could taste a draw. With a minute to go a Keiran Kerr flat ball found a steamrolling Luke Dalziel-Don. The back rower threw a magic round the corner ball that would have made John Cartwright proud to a barn storming Corey Maher. Maher crashed over underneath the sticks to force the unlikeliest of draws.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 28 ( S Marteene 2, B Kelly, D Holdsworth, C Maher tries; D Holdsworth 4 goals) drew with SOUTHS JUNIORS 28 ( M Brinckley 2, N Ford, J Clarke, J Lichaa tries; J Williams 4 goals)
Meanwhile the St George Illawarra Jersey Flegg side didn't crack a century for the second week in a row, but still managed to outclass South Sydney 26-8. Still on top of the competition ladder, no side in the Jersey Flegg comp looks to be coming close.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 26 (J Lewis, B Jefferey, J Morris, J Dunning, T Hewitt tries; J Lewis 3 goals) d. SOUTH SYDNEY 8 ( D Ryman, R Hanbury tries)