A controversial final five minutes has overshadowed an entertaining clash at WIN Stadium where the St George Illawarra Dragons scored a 12-10 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles in front of 14,268 fans in Wollongong.
The first half was an end-to-end affair with both sides having good periods of possession where they put their opponents under defensive pressure. The Dragons were the first side to put their opponents under enormous pressure however the only points they could pick up were through a penalty goal after Manly were called offside.
The Saints were able to get the first try of the game but between the penalty goal and the try, the Sea Eagles were denied a try by the Bunker when both it and referee David Munro ruled that Toafofoa Sipley was short of the line. The first try for the Red V had come off the back of a kick which they had luck with, forcing repeat sets and eventually the try for Matt Dufty was registered when he chased through and got to a Ben Hunt kick which was well placed into open space.
The game then went end-to-end yet again before Manly were able to crack the Dragons line, when they elected to go down the short side and DCE found Brad Parker who scored. The conversion was pushed across the face and the Dragons lead 8-4 which was the half time score despite a missed penalty goal attempt for Tim Lafai.
The second half began with a string of penalties against the Dragons as the Sea Eagles started to gain some dominance and as the possession mounted in their favour and they eventually were able to cross the line when Daly Cherry-Evans got a ricochet off his own kick following some tunnel ball offloading from Corey Waddell. St George Illawarra kept throwing things at the Manly line but some hard luck with some unlucky call and ill-discipline cost them.
The game hit its first controversy with five minutes to go when referee David Munro elected to use the Bunker for some off-the-ball contact from Brad Parker on a Dragons chaser well away from the try line. The Bunker reviewed the play and ruled a penalty against Parker for a trip even though the Manly centre wasn't binned or placed on report. Tim Lafai took the opportunity to shoot for a penalty goal but missed yet again to keep the margin at two.
The Dragons finally got to the lead in the final two minutes when Fijian winger Mikaele Ravalawa scored off a Ben Hunt kick to give the Dragons a 12-10 lead, Tim Lafai again missed the conversion so the margin stayed at 2. The biggest talking point of the game came in the dying seconds when Daly Cherry-Evans put in a cross-field kick that was safely taken by Jordan Pereira and ended the game. However, the controversy came when referee Munro elected to call full-time and not penalise the Dragons for an illegal blocker when Tim Lafai took out the Sea Eagles chaser from the contest.
Next weekend, the Dragons have a short turnaround as they play in the traditional ANZAC day match against the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday whilst the Sea Eagles task doesn't get easier as they play hosts to the Canberra Raiders at Brookvale Oval on Sunday.A controversial final 5 minutes has overshadowed an entertaining clash at WIN Stadium where the St George Illawarra Dragons scored a 12-10 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles in front of 14,000 fans in Wollongong.