Full Time
3:00pm Sat September 1, 2018
Round 25 - McDonald Jones Stadium - Crowd: 24662

Match Overview

Where there is life, there is hope. The St. George Illawarra Dragons have claimed a much-needed 24-14 win over the Newcastle Knights heading into next week's finals in front of over 24,000 fans in the Hunter.

After suffering an embarrassing 38-0 defeat and being booed off their field by their own fans, many questioned whether the Dragons would be able to muster the self-belief to bounce back this week.

And their assignment was made even tougher given that they were travelling to McDonald Jones Stadium for Newcastle's annual Old Boys Day. 

The contest was scrappy at times, but in the end a resilient effort in defence saw the Dragons storm home in the second half to restore confidence as they enter the 2018 NRL Finals Series.

It was clear that this was a side low on confidence in the early stages of Saturday afternoon's game, with the Dragons opting to open the scoring with a penalty goal, despite facing the competition's worst defensive side. 

Paul McGregor's men did cross over for three tries in the first half, only to have all of them denied by the video officials. 

And their frustrations would have only strengthened as the Knights went into the sheds with a 10-2 lead off the back of less-than-convincing tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Ken Sio. It wasn't the worst result for the Dragons though, trailing by eight points despite only having 35% of the ball in the first forty.

And they continued to gift Newcastle several chances to extend their lead in the second half, yet without star fullback Kalyn Ponga, the home side looked rudderless in attack. The Red V regained the lead in the 45th minute when Jeremy Latimore crashed over for what was just the seventh try of his 10-year career.

The game then descended into a flurry of errors before a brilliant offload by Cameron McInnes sent Nene Macdonald flying away to soar over in the corner.

Newcastle's ball handling continued to cost them and eventually the Dragons capitalised when Ben Hunt scooped up a loose ball and found rookie Zac Lomax in support who sent Matt Dufty racing away to score.

The Knights quickly hit back when Sio pounced on a lovely kick by Mitchell Pearce but it was all in vain with Jordan Pereira sealing the victory in the 78th minute off yet another Newcastle mistake.

The win means that the Dragons temporarily sit in sixth position. However, if the Broncos win by more than 24 points, the Red V will have to travel to Brisbane in week one of the finals. A victory by over 33 points to the Broncos will see the Dragons face Penrith. 

Meanwhile, Saturday afternoon's loss signals the end of a promising season in the Hunter, with the Knights finally avoiding the wooden spoon after claiming nine wins. 

3. Tyson Frizell

Thought in a close game Frizell provided the Dragons with some much-needed punch up front. Ran for over 110 metres and also came up with 33 tackles.

2. Mitchell Pearce

Newcastle don't even go close without Pearce. Set up two tries and finished the game with 550 kicking metres. His leadership kept the home side in it.

1. Cameron McInnes

Popped a beautiful offload for the Nene Macdonald try and made 48 tackles. Really held his own and played a key role in the Dragons constantly repelling attacking raids from Newcastle.