The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Warriors downed the St George Illawarra Dragons 30 - 20 at Kogarah Jubilee Oval this afternoon. Both teams are hovering around the bottom of the top eight and the match was crucial for both the Warriors and the Dragons finals aspirations.
With Timmins out, the Dragons fielded a young and inexperienced team, with Illawarra junior Ben Creagh making his debut on the wing while Nathan Blacklock was moved to fullback. The home side got off to a good start when captain Lance Thompson won the toss and elected to defend the southern end with a big sea breeze at their back for the first half, but from then on everything went the Warriors way.
Within minutes of kickoff the Warriors had crossed the line three times to put themselves 16 points clear of the local side. The Dragons pushed back and caught the Warriors behind their own line. A bit of individual brilliance from Brett Firman saw him steal the ball from Brent Webb in a one on one and score for the Dragons. Their enthusiasm fired up, the Dragons kept up the attack but when Carlaw intercepted a long floating pass near his own line and ran the length of the field to score, Dragons hopes were dashed.
The Warriors led 20 - 6 into the break.
The Dragons came out firing in the second half, retaining most of the possession and running in two quick tries to put them within four points of the visitors. Both teams stepped up a gear as the match hung in the balance. It was International Ali Lauitiiti, busting out of a four man tackle to plant the ball over the Dragons line that put the Warriors even further ahead. The Dragons hopes were even further dashed when a try to Blacklock was ruled offside, followed shortly by another length of the field try to the Warriors.
In the dying minutes, Blacklock scored for the Dragons but it was all too little too late. The Warriors were 10 point winners, moving up the ladder while the Dragons now drop out of the top eight and face a tough run into the finals.
Scorers: DRAGONS Tries: Firman, Cooper, M Howell, Blacklock Goals: Riddell (2/3) WARRIORS Tries: Villasanti, Hohaia, Carlaw, Leuluai, Lauiti'iti, Webb Goals: Hohaia (3/6)
Leagueunlimited players of the game:
3 - A Lauiti'iti (Warriors) 2 - B Firman (Dragons) 1 - J Carlaw (Warriors)
0 Min: Kickoff!
4th Min: Warriors off to a good start as Richard Villasanti storms through a gap to score. Conversion unsuccessful. Warriors 4: Dragons 0
11th Min: Another raid down the left sees the Warriors in again. Hohaia converts his own try as the ball bounces off the posts. Warriors 10: Dragons 0
15th Min: Warriors in again, this time under the posts. Hohaia converts. Warriors 16: Dragons 0
18th Min: Dragons strike back after Firman wins the ball in a one on one strip on Brent Webb behind the dead ball line. Riddell converts from right in front. Warriors 16: Dragons 6
21st Min: Warriors marched 10m for back chat after a penalty against them.
22nd Min: Carlaw intercepts and runs 95m, almost the length of the field to score for the Warriors. The Dragons were never going to catch him. Hohaia misses the conversion. Warriors 20: Dragons 6
31st Min: With the Dragons 14pts behind, Firman kicks his fifth 40/20 of the season.
35th Min: Dragons receive a penalty as the Warriors find themselves inside the ten, but Firman's kick is batted back infield by Carlaw. Warriors back in possession and attacking the line.
37th Min: Young down after a head clash with Seuseu. Howell on for Bailey.
HALF TIME SCORE Warriors 20 - 6 Dragons
Warriors have had the best of the possession and the Dragons, especially Thompson and Riddell, have been doing a lot more tackling. A little inexperience on the wing has cost the Dragons dearly while, for the Warriors, Carlaw's quick hands and Lauiti'iti's dangerous offloads have been highly successful.
41st Min: Cooper puts the ball down over the line for the Dragons. A tense wait for the Video Ref to decide if Lance Thompson passed off the ground but the try is awarded. Riddell cannot convert, kicking into a strong breeze. warriors 20: Dragons 10
49th Min: Dragons have had the weight of possession in the second half and finally score when Blacklock sets up Michael Howell with a grubber kick. Riddell successful. Warriors 20: Dragons 16
60th Min: The Warriors look certain to score but are held out by the Dragons defence. Both teams are keen, having stepped up the pace, and the match is in the balance.
63rd Min: Lauiti'iti breaks out of a tackle and forces the ball over the line for the Warriors in a show of strength against several Dragons defenders. Hohaia makes it a six-pointer. Warriors 26: Dragons 16
66th Min: Firman grubbers. Blacklock bounces off the upright to put the ball down over the line. Another tense wait for Steve Clarke to adjudcate and he finds Blacklock offside. NO TRY.
68th Min: Brent Webb runs almost the length of the field to score for the Warriors. Hohaia misses. Warriors 30: Dragons 16
76th Min: A quick pass from Firman, attacking the Warriors line, finds Blacklock, who scores. No conversion. It's all a little too late for the Dragons. Warriors 30: Dragons 20
FULL TIME SCORE: Warriors 30 - 20 Dragons