The Dragons were slow out of the blocks on Friday night at Wollongong, but a late try in the first half, coupled with the loss of Cowboys half Michael Morgan, gave the home side the upper hand and they took full advantage.
The Cowboys opened the scoring with a penalty goal to Jordan Kahu in the 11th minute. Six minutes later they also bagged the first try of the match, when Michael Morgan, on the right side, sent a stunning flat cut-out pass to Kyle Feldt, who then drew the defender before passing back in to Tom Opacic who scored untouched. Kahu was unable to convert.
In the 28th minute, the Cowboys were in again. This time it was new recruit Scott Drinkwater, who ran on an angled line towards the right wing and then sliced through the poor defence to score. Kahu was again unsuccessful from a difficult angle.
The Dragons finally got on the board with three minutes left in the half, when Ben Hunt on the right side, grubbered early and Mikaele Ravalawa flew down the touchline, regathered, skipped out of a tackle and ran around to score under the posts. Corey Norman converted.
Four minutes into the second half, Cowboys half Michael Morgan copped a heavy tackle from Tariq Sims which saw him come off for an HIA, which he ultimately failed, leaving the Cowboys without their chief playmaker.
Three minutes later, Matt Dufty followed through a high kick and caught it cleanly between two Cowboys defenders, who weren't even trying to catch the ball. Dufty scored beside the posts and Norman added the conversion to give the Dragons the lead.
In the 68th minute, the Dragons crossed again when Dufty, out on the right side, threw a good cut-out ball to Aitken, who then ran between the two edge defenders to score out wide. Norman's sideline conversion was brilliant.
It was just 3 minutes later that the Dragons put the game beyond doubt when Jacob Host just got the ball on the line for a well-deserved try after running into a gap off a nicely held-up pass from Ben Hunt. Norman missed the relatively easy conversion.
To their credit though, the Cowboys didn't quit and with five minutes remaining, Opacic went over in the right corner after running onto a good quick catch and pass from Drinkwater. Jake Clifford was unable to convert.
With 2 minutes remaining, the Cowboys looked to have crossed again when Kahu went over, however the referee ruled the final pass went forward, thus snuffing out any chance of a last gasp finish.