St George Illawarra have returned to the winners circle tonight with a comprehensive 24-6 victory over Manly in front of 18974 fans at WIN Stadium.
In what might be the story of the week, NSW five-eighth Jamie Soward, who starred for the Dragons, limped off the field in the 72nd minute after scoring the match-sealing try. Speaking to Fox Sports straight after the game, Soward believed it was a hamstring twinge.
The top of the table clash lived up to all expectations throughout the first half, with St George Illawarra spending most of the opening 40 minutes defending inside their own half. After 12 minutes the Eagles had the first chance of posting first points through winger David Williams. Running their attack to their right hand side, Eagles centre Jamie Lyon kicked into the Dragons in-goal. Williams won the race to the ball, but video referee Sean Hampstead ruled Lyon pulled Dragons winger Morris back slightly as he attempted to force the ball.
Four minutes later, the Dragons opened the scoring through centre Kyle Stanley. Nathan Fien, playing halfback for the injured Ben Hornby kicked to the corner and despite replays suggesting Stanley may have gotten a hand to the ball in the contest with Williams, Hampsead flashed up the green lights and the Dragons were away for the night. 10 minutes later, the Dragons extended their lead through hooker Mitch Rein. As interchange forward Trent Merrin got a quick play-the-ball, the hooker dummied to the open side, fooling both Manly markers and dived over alongside the posts. Soward added the extras to extend the Dragons lead to a dozen.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the first half came in the shadows of halftime, but did not lead to points. The Eagles had 36 successive tackles inside the Dragons 20m zone, but the Premiers showed why they should still be the competition favourites as they repelled the Eagles to hold their 12-0 advantage heading into the halftime break.
For Manly to hold any chance of a comeback, they needed to be the first side to score in the second half. And they didn't have to wait long to close the gap to just a converted try. In just the second minute of the second half, Kieran Foran banana-kicked towards the posts and found a flying Brett Stewart who picked up the ball and scored alongside the posts.
The Dragons pulled clear again in the 50th minute when Sea Eagles halfback Daly Cherry-Evans attempted a short goal-line drop-out which sailed out on the full. With just 13 minutes remaining, the Dragons looked to put the result beyond doubt when centre Kyle Stanley scored his second try of the night. Soward ran the ball to the Manly line on the last tackle, firing a cut-out pass to winger Brett Morris. Morris then offloaded to Stanley who wrapped around the back.
With 10 minutes remaining, Soward capped off a great night for himself. With the Eagles throwing the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters, Foran's pass which was intended for Stewart missed the fullback. Soward picked up the ball and raced 85m to score alongside the posts, despite Michael Robertson and Jamie Lyon's best efforts. He was soon replaced by coach Wayne Bennett after feeling a slight twinge high up in his hamstring as he picked himself up after scoring the try.
The win was the Dragons first in a month and also registered Bennett's 400th victory as first grade coach. Next week, the Dragons will host the Knights on Sunday in Wollongong minus all Origin stars, while the Eagles will have the weekend off.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 6
National Rugby League - Round 16 (Women in League Round) - Monday June 27, 2011 7:00pm
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Gavin Badger
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead
Touch Judges: Paul Holland and Ricky MacFarlane
Halftime: St George Illawarra Dragons 12 Manly Sea Eagles 0
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (24)
Tries: Jamie Soward, Kyle Stanley (2), Mitchell Rein
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/3), Kyle Stanley (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
MANLY SEA EAGLES (6)
Tries: Brett Stewart
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary And a very good evening and welcome to WIN Stadium in Wollongong for tonight's blockbuster Monday Night Football encounter between the St George Illawarra Dragons and Manly Sea Eagles. The match promises to be a cracker as the build-up to State of Origin Three continues.
In team news, a few changes for the Dragons side. Ben Hornby is out and he will be replaced by Nathan Fien in jumper #15. Mitch Rein comes into the starting side in jumper 23 at the expense of Dean Young who drops back to the bench. Joining Young on the bench is Jon Green, Adam Cuthbertson and Jack De Belin who is making his first grade debut.
For the Eagles, just the one minor change with Vic Mauro replacing Joe Galuvao in the run-on side. Galuvao drops back to the bench. Kick off in First Grade is scheduled for a little after 7.05pm.
In the Toyota Cup curtain raiser, the Dragons have run out 42-24 victors over the Eagles.
1 min: The Dragons get us underway tonight and will defend the northern end of WIN Stadium in the first half.
1 min: PENALTY Eagles. Dragons lying around too long in the ruck.
2 min: PENALTY Eagles. Dragons caught offside.
3 min: Ballin tries to dive over from dummy half but desperate Dragons defence holds him up.
4 min: Cherry-Evans kick towards the posts is taken by Soward, but Watmough monsters the five-eighth and bundles him back into the in-goal.
5 min: PENALTY Dragons. Foran takes the Dragons defence on, but runs behind Watmough who was acting as a decoy.
6 min: Soward's half chip half bomb is allowed to bounce by Williams, before the Eagles winger can't pick up the ball and the ball goes into touch. Scrum Dragons.
7 min: According to referee Badger, Williams didn't touch the ball, although replays suggest he definitely did and the Eagles somehow move the ball upfield.
8 min: Watmough charges onto a short pass off Foran but drops the ball. The Dragons shift the ball to their left-hand side, but also put the ball down.
9 min: Cherry-Evans chips to the corner, but the ball beats everyone into touch.
10 min: PENALTY Dragons. Eagles caught offside.
10 min: The Dragons now drop the ball on the third tackle, as Merrin fought the Eagles defenders trying for a quick play-the-ball.
12 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Eagles try.
12 min: No Try. PENALTY Dragons. The Eagles are penalised as Lyon is ruled to have pulled Morris back slightly in the race to the ball before Williams forced the ball in the corner.
15 min: Watmough drops the ball on the second tackle as the Eagles worked the ball off their own line.
16 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.
16 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Kyle Stanley. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
The Dragons open the scoring here tonight! Despite replays showing Stanley may have gotten a touch into the arms of Williams after Fien's cross-field kick, the video referee has thought otherwise and flashes up the green lights. Soward makes no mistake adding the extras.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
19 min: PENALTY Eagles. Stewart is collected high by Fien and Cherry-Evans finds touch on halfway.
20 min: The Eagles run the ball on the last, and Williams attempted kick dribbles into touch.
21 min: PENALTY Dragons. Eagles making a second tackle on Morris.
22 min: The Dragons attempt to run their own second-man play involving Boyd, but Matai races out of the line and forces the mistake.
23 min: The natives are getting a little restless here in Wollongong after Matai appeared to hit Nightingale with a swinging arm.
24 min: PENALTY Dragons. Matai is placed on report.
25 min: The Dragons show some quick hands as they take play to their left hand side, but Stanley's attempt to Morris is ruled forward.
27 min: The Eagles run the ball on the last, but the pass is intercepted by Soward!
27 min: Stewart chases Soward down, but then the Eagles are penalised for being offside.
28 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Mitchell Rein. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Rein sneaks over from dummy half! Taking advantage of a quick play-the-ball, the hooker fools both markers and burrows low to extend the Dragons lead. Soward again adds the extras from alongside the posts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
31 min: Creagh takes the Eagles line on and throws an unnecessary offload which is knocked on by Morris. Scrum Eagles.
33 min: Cherry-Evans grubbers into the in-goal and forces a repeat set off the Dragons.
34 min: Lyon tries to set his winger up with a kick in behind the Dragons defence, but Morris bats the ball over the deadball line.
36 min: Cherry-Evans again puts another well-weighted kick into the in-goal which is knocked on by Gasnier. Dropout Dragons.
37 min: PENALTY Eagles. Matai is knocked over after playing the ball.
38 min: Lyon's kick back towards the posts is knocked on by Pryor. The Eagles with another chance at scoring points; their sixth consecutive set on the Dragons line.
40 min: Cherry-Evans kick on the last is taken by Morris and the Dragons have repelled 36 successive tackles.
40 min: Soward trickles the ball into touch and the Dragons go to the sheds to a standing ovation from the Wollongong faithful.
41 min: The second half is underway and the Dragons will get first use of the ball.
42 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by Brett Stewart. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
The Eagles score a brilliant try! On the blindside on tackle five, five-eighth Kieran Foran banana-kicked towards the posts and Stewart, flying through, picks up the ball on the full and scores alongside the posts. Lyon closes the gap to half a dozen.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12-6
45 min: Foran's kick on the last trickles over the deadball line. In backplay, Joe Galuvao is helped from the field, with what looks like an arm injury. Adding to Des Hasler's woes is David Williams not returning after halftime.
46 min: A brilliant kick to the corner sits up in the in-goal and Lyon waits as long as possible, before kicking the ball touch in-goal fractionally in front of Morris.
47 min: Soward chips towards the posts looking for Gasnier, but Robertson is awake to the situation and bats the ball over the deadball line.
48 min: PENALTY Dragons. The Eagles attempt a short drop-out which sails out on the full over the eastern sideline.
49 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Penalty goal attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Soward makes no mistake from in front of the posts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 14-6
53 min: Foran bombs to Nightingale's wing but the winger comes up with a good catch.
54 min: PENALTY Dragons. Eagles caught offside after Boyd's pass to Nightingale is ruled forward.
55 min: Cuthbertson puts an inside pass down off Young and the Eagles breathe easy again.
56 min: Foran chips for Stewart, but Fien gets back in time and bats the ball into the arms of Boyd.
57 min: Soward's bomb to Lyon is taken well by the centre.
57 min: PENALTY Eagles. The Dragons are ruled to have continued on with the tackle for too long after getting plenty of players involved in the tackle.
59 min: Cherry-Evans cross-field bomb is taken by Buhrer, but Morris completes the tackle. Changeover.
61 min: Cherry-Evans kick into the Dragons in-goal is perfectly weighted. Boyd's wishes for the ball to go dead don't come true and Manly will get a repeat set.
63 min: The Dragons goal-line defence is again outstanding and they repel the Eagles.
65 min: Boyd picks up another kick on the full and heads downfield! His pass finds Nightingale before the winger is monstered by Watmough.
65 min: PENALTY Dragons. Watmough ruled to have held on too long in the tackle.
66 min: Fien's kick hits the post and Ballin knocks the ball on and the Dragons get the ball back.
67 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Kyle Stanley. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful.
The Dragons extend their lead through Stanley! Moving the ball to the left hand side, Soward's bullet cut-out pass finds Morris. The winger then offloaded to Stanley who wrapped behind and improved the position. Soward can't add the extras from out wide.
St George Illawarra Dragons 18-6
69 min: Manly's short kick-off is taken well by Matai and the Eagles aren't done with yet tonight.
70 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Jamie Soward. Conversion attempt by Kyle Stanley successful.
The Dragons will win the game tonight! As the Eagles tried to run their second-man play from Foran to Stewart, the pass missed the fullback and Soward swooped. The five-eighth then raced 85m, outpacing Robertson and Lyon, scoring alongside the posts. In Soward's sprint to the tryline, it looks as though the NSW five-eighth has picked up a knock and he wanders to the Dragons bench.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24-6
73 min: The Dragons run the ball on the last and Nightingale's kick is picked up by Cherry-Evans who gets back into the field of play.
76 min: Stewart slices through the Dragons defence, but Boyd comes up with a trysaver.
76 min: PENALTY Eagles. Dragons caught offside.
78 min: Glenn Stewart puts a kick in for his brother, but Pryor is there for the Dragons.
79 min: The Dragons are finishing full of running here tonight and Boyd's cutout pass for Morris is knocked into touch by Manly's Lyon.
80 min: Fien attempts to trickle a grubber into the in-goal, but the Eagles have players there and kick the ball over the deadball line.
80 min: Fulltime here at WIN Stadium and the Dragons have run out convincing 24-6 victors over the Sea Eagles.