It may have taken until the 60th minute for them to get going, but the Dragons have done it, advancing into the Preliminary Final week with a resounding 28-0 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles at Kogarah today.
In what was a typical Dragons performance, the home side controlled things nicely through out the majority of the contest, repelling a number of Manly raids on their line with a brick wall defence that never looked like breaking before responding with a number of classical backline movements that saw them run away with the contest.
In a clinical first half, the Dragons drew early blood through a pin point grubber kick by Jamie Soward which bounced straight into the arms of skipper Ben Hornby. He did well to claim the try just inside the dead ball line to put the minor premiers on the board.
From there it was all Manly, who received a glut of possesion but weren't able to capitalise, as the Dragons again and again shut down whatever the Sea Eagles threw at them. In the end, it was the hosts who would post more points after Soward kicked back to back penalty goals to give the Dragons a commanding 10-0 half time lead.
After half time, Soward kept the penalty goal streak alive by posting two more penalty goals inside the opening fifteen minutes of the second half.
Fourteen points ahead, the Dragons then decided to start throwing the ball around and the results showed quickly. Evergreen centre Matt Cooper scored two tries in three minutes to take the score out to 24 points before Mark Gasnier scored a scintillating 80 metre try to capture the final scoreline for the match.
Manly kept the Dragons honest through out the contest but unfortunately they just didn't have the muscle to threaten the minor premiers on the day. St George Illawarra now look forward to Friday's contest between the Raiders and the Tigers to see who they'll play in the second Preliminary Final in two weeks time.
St George Illawarra Dragons 28 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 0
National Rugby League - Finals Week 1 - Sunday September 12, 2010 4:00pm
Venue: WIN Jubilee Oval
Referee: Jared Maxwell and Jason Robinson
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins
Touch Judges: David Abood and Luke Potter
Halftime: St George Illawarra Dragons Manly Sea Eagles
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Hello and welcome to WIN Jubilee Oval for the final game of the preliminary round where St. George Illawarra will host Manly in what could potentially be the defining game of either team's season. The equation for the Sea Eagles is simple. Win and they advance on to play the Panthers, lose and they'll be heading to the nearest pub to celebrate Mad Monday. For the Dragons, they'll be looking to send a message to the rest of the competition and place themselves as the dominant team of the finals. It's been 12 months since their memorable loss to the Eels that saw them claim the chokers tag which they will be looking to relinquish this finals series and a win today would be a perfect start. Game kicks off in about 20 minutes so hang back and enjoy today's contest.
Both teams have come out onto the field.
Manly attempt a short kick off but it doesn't go the 10! Dragons with the early penalty. Boy is this a sign of things to come for Manly?
2 min: Dragons work it up early before shifting it wide to Morris who just goes over the sideline in attempting to ground the ball over the try-line. Sea Eagles are working it up out of their own half.
4 min: Lyon sprints it up into the Dragons line up and appears to have lost the ball but it's ruled a strip by the referees. Manly with it 40m out from the Dragons line. 5 min: Hodkinson places a pin point bomb down Nightingale's wing who's under all sorts and loses the ball on landing to the turf. Sea Eagles scrum 10m out from the Dragons line. 6 min: Sea Eagles try a sweeping play on the right before Soward makes an important tackle that forces the ball free. Dragons off the hook with a scrum 10m out from their own line.
7 min: Mat Cooper hits a sweet inside pass by Hornby and the Sea Eagles give away a penalty for hand on the ball. Dragons with it 40m out from the Sea Eagles line.
8 min: TRY
Soward places a grubber towards the Sea Eagles post and Hornby has taken the ball mid-air and placed it upon landing. Dragons take the early lead.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
15 min: Cooper makes a half-break and loses it after a desperate Manly ankle tap.
16 min: Dragons are penalised for a ruck infringement on Anthony Watmough. They work their way into Dragons territory.
16 min: Manly receive another set on the Dragons line.
18 min: Foran puts in a inch perfect cross-field kick towards Robertson and Nightingale once again knocks on. What has happened to Jason?
20 min: Nightingale finally defuses a bomb which ends the Sea Eagles charge towards the try line.
21 min: Ruck infringement penalty towards the Dragons. They receive the ball 50m out.
21 min: Dragons force a goal line drop out after an exciting passage of play that see's the ball shifted from one side of the field to another before Soward gets the ball and kicks it towards the post forcing a repeat set.
22 min: Neville makes a great charge towards the line but loses it before going to ground. Sea Eagles get the ball and are working it up to halfway.
23 min: Beau Scott is penalised for a knee in the play the ball. Sea Eagles ball 20m out from the Dragons line.
24 min: Tony Williams breaks away from a tackle and throws a long loopy pass to the sideline official. Dragons scrum 10m out from their own line.
26 min: Hornby throws an inside pass to Creagh who wasn't expecting it and loses it 40m out from his own line. Can the Sea Eagles do something with the ball here?
27 min: Manly are denied once more after Ballin goes to Cross on the last who meekly hits it up and is tackled well short of the try line.
27 min: Dragons receive a penalty and start play 40m out from the Sea Eagles line.
29 min: Dragons force another goal line drop out. This time through the boot of Boyd who kicks a grubber towards Morris who is beaten by a Sea Eagles player who knocks it dead.
30 min: Ben Creagh looked to of lost it but it's ruled a rake by the refs. Soward is going for the 2 points.
32 min: PENALTY GOAL
Soward slots an easy penalty goal adjacent to up-rights to extend the Dragons lead.
St George Illawarra Dragons 8-0
33 min: Farrar is forced to field a fantastic Dragons kick from his own in-goal and as he works his way back he's lifted from the ground and forced back in. Manly work it up to the halfway line.
34 min: Back to back penalties here. This time for a ruck infringement. Manly with it 30m out.
35 min: Williams losing it trying to come back into the inside 10m out from the Dragons line.
38 min: Manly come up with a good set of six that ends in a kick by Hodkinson into Morris' corner but he works it out from there and races away to the 30m line. Dragons go wide and nobody wants to tackle Nightingale who runs it inside the Sea Eagles territory and the Dragons are well on attack here.
39 min: PENALTY GOAL
Sea Eagles are penalised for a flop and Soward slots it from a similar position from before.
St George Illawarra Dragons 10-0
40 min: Sea Eagles are forced to kick off. Lyon kicks it straight to Nightingale who hits it up as the half-time siren sounds.
40 min: Dragons are well in control here. Despite having a lot of the possession and territory the Sea Eagles haven't looked like scoring. The Dragons on the other hand have threatened to blow the Sea Eagles away but have played it calm and collectively to take a controlling 10 point lead into halftime.
41 min: A failed 40/20 attempt goes out on the full. Dragons ball 40m out from the Manly try line.
43 min: After throwing a lovely offload the play before. Big Georgey Rose tries to throw another but it's intercepted by the Dragons. They start the set just on the half-way line.
45 min: Hornby is hit in a great tackle by Buhrer and loses it 50m out from the Sea Eagles line.
47 min: Foran kicks it too deep and the Dragons have it on a 20m restart.
48 min: Matt Ballin collects Soward high as Jamie puts up a huge bomb that Robertson had spilled anyways. Soward goes for another penalty goal. Is this a League game or a Union game here boys?
49 min: PENALTY GOAL
Jamie Soward from the eastern side about 15m out strikes it and it's there!
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
51 min: Seu Seu comes onto the field and has an instant impact by making half a break and getting it to Geroge Rose. Manly on the attack force a goal line drop out. Can they turn this game into a contest?
53 min: Soward takes a Foran grubber and relieves his side of all kinds of pressure.
53 min: Dragons receive a penalty and start their set 50m out from the Sea Eagles line.
55 min: Costigan looks to of crashed over the line after taking a Smith offload close to the line. Replays on the other hand show that Seu Seu has stripped the ball over the line. It's a no try. But a goal line drop out.
56 min: PENALTY GOAL
Manly pinged for a ruck penalty. And Soward true to form decides to go for another penalty goal. Riveting stuff here. Oh boy and it's successful too!
St George Illawarra Dragons 14-0
58 min: Ouch! Farrar has been crunched right into the goal posts thanks to a Hornby tackle. He's still fit enough to play on though.
58 min: Loses it only 20m away from his own line. Here comes the Dragons!
60 min: Or not, Fien loses it while trying to take a bad Dragons pass.
61 min: Oh boy, forget a Union game it's becoming a full on sloppy AFL game here. Watmough loses it 50m out and Dragons begin their set on zero tackle.
62 min: Has thrown a shallow forward pass to Creagh who looked to of gotten Cooper away. Sea Eagles scrum 20m out from their own line.
63 min: Hodkinson tries a chip and chase for his fullback Farrar but the kick is too deep and it rolls nicely for Boyd who takes it and finishes with it 30m out from his own line.
64 min: Foran tries a chip and chase but like his halves partner it goes too deep. Dragons with it 40m out from their own line.
65 min: TRY
That's more like it. Young runs it from dummy half before finding Smith who throws an offload to Soward who goes right to Gasnier who runs it forward before linking up with centre partner Cooper who crashes over to score. Soward from about 10m out from the sideline...nails it!
St George Illawarra Dragons 20-0
68 min: TRY
It's opened up here! The Dragons force their way into the Sea Eagles half with a blistering set of six. It appears the ball is about to die with Boyd who gets it away to Morris, who links up with Creagh who finds Soward who dummies to kick before straightening up and backing himself through the middle of the ruck before finding Cooper to his left who dives over to score. Soward misses the kick but it doesn't matter.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24-0
69 min: It's just gone from bad to worse here for the Sea Eagles. Maxwell has had enough of Watmough's big mouth and has sent him to the bin to cool down.
71 min: The Dragons were tearing the Sea Eagles apart but a forced Cooper pass misses the target of Soward and ends up spilling over the sideline. Sea Eagles ball 40m out.
73 min: TRY
Gasnier has gone the length of the field here. Soward goes wide to Gasnier who fends off Foran before racing the length of the field to score a trademark try. Soward from close to the touch line...misses.
St George Illawarra Dragons 28-0
75 min: Hornby over-runs a pass and loses the ball 40m out from his own line.
76 min: Bit of confusion here as the Dragons race out to the 20 to take a quick tap but Maxwell rules a goal line drop out. Video ref. intervention proves the Dragons were indeed correct. Dragons ball 20m out from their own line.
77 min: Another error here by Captain Hornby who's thrown another shallow forward pass to Creagh. Manly ball 20m out.
79 min: Robertson is penalised for putting pressure on Boyd's neck. Dragons begin their set 40m out.
80 min: Cooper loses it after being fired a brilliant pass. Manly ball 30m out from their own line. Manly in their set go for a chip to the wing of Robertson but the ball bounces well for Soward who goes to ground, gets up and runs forward and looks to find Nightingale outwide but the pass goes behind him and that's all she wrote. Full time here at WIN.