Tigers dampen Dragons finals hopes

Wests Tigers have put a dent in the St George Illlawarra Dragons finals aspirations with an entertaining 18-10 victory at WIN Stadium tonight.

With only one month to go before the finals, the Dragons will be relying on their for-and-against to stay in the top eight this weekend. West Tigers meanwhile have edged a little closer to snaring a possible finals berth. Both teams are on 24 competition points.

Played in cold and gusty conditions, the match was marked by a flurry of penalty goals. Dragons' five eighth Jamie Soward opened the scoring after just three minutes after being hit late following a kick, the ensuing penalty goal gave the home side a 2-0 lead.

Running into a stiff breeze, Wests Tigers responded through five eighth Benji Marshall with penalty goals in the 16th and 22nd minutes to take a 4-2 lead.

With both teams throwing the ball around, it was the Tigers who scored the first four-pointer in the 25th minute, winger Beau Ryan leaping high to a cross-field kick from Robbie Farah. Marshall's sideline conversion put the visitors up by 10-2.

Another Marshall penalty goal just before half time gave Wests Tigers a handy 12-2 lead at the break, and looking forward to having the wind at their backs in the second half.

The Dragons came out firing in the second half and were rewarded with a try to winger Josh Morris in the 46th minute. Another excellent sideline conversion, this time from Soward, made it 12-8 and put Saints back in the match.

The Dragons got closer again five minutes later when Soward slotted another penalty goal to make it 12-10.

What followed was an entertaining 20 minutes of end-to-end football.

With the match up for grabs, it came down to an 80-metre run in the 75th minute, Ryan and Marshall combining to score the match-winner. The closeness of the contest was highlighted as the Dragons chanced their hand with a clever chip ahead from Soward, the nippy five eighth almost regathering from 20-metres out with support players to choose from. But Ryan scooped up the loose ball and found himself in open space. Marshall scored out wide and potted another classy sideline conversion to bring up the full time score.

Match Details Wests Tigers 18 def St George Illawarra Dragons 10 Venue: WIN Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne Touch Judges: Alan Shortall, Russell Turner Video Referee: Paul Simpkins Half time: Wests Tigers 12-2 Crowd: 14,207

St George Illawarra Dragons 10 Tries: Josh Morris Goals: Jamie Soward (3/3) Wests Tigers 18 Tries: Beau Ryan, Benji Marshall Goals: Benji Marshall (5/5)

LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Chris Heighington (Tigers) 2 Points: Benji Marshall (Tigers) 1 Point: Robbie Farah (Tigers)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Very cold in Wollongong with the Dragons taking on Wests Tigers. A number of team changes and shuffling of positions as injuries start to mount up at the back-end of the season. Wests Tigers prop Bryce Gibbs named on Tuesday will not be playing, front rower Ryan O'Hara makes a return from injury and comes into the 17.

DRAGONS: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Chase Stanley 3. Mark Gasnier (c) 4. Matt Cooper 5. Josh Morris 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby 8. Jarrod Saffy 17. Simon Woolford 10. Dan Hunt 11. Beau Scott 12. Lagi Setu 13. Stuart Webb Interchange: 9. Dean Young 14. Matt Prior 15. Ricky Thorby 16. Kirk Reynoldson TIGERS: 1. Shannon Gallant 2. Taniela Tuiaki 3. Dene Halatau 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Beau Ryan 6. Benji Marshall 7. Robbie Farah (c) 8. Keith Galloway 9. John Morris 20. Bronson Harrison 11. Todd Payten 12. Chris Heighington 13. Liam Fulton Interchange: 15. Ben Te