The St George Illawarra Dragons have recorded their first win of the season after downing the Cronulla Sharks 30-16 at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Scoring five tries to three in a game that was brought forward due to coronavirus concerns within the Bulldogs' camp, the Dragons responded in fine fashion following two dismal showings over the past fortnight, with reinstated fullback Matt Dufty providing a much-needed attacking spark for the joint venture.
Avoiding an early scare after Dufty was denied for an obstruction, the Sharks wasted little time in opening the scoring through former South Sydney winger Mawene Hiroti (6th minute) following a lovely offload from Josh Dugan.
Crossing for their first try since the 63rd minute of their Round 2 loss to Penrith back in March, Mikaele Ravalawa (14th minute) was on the spot to give the Dragons a 6-4 lead.
Responding through Sione Katoa (21st minute) following a nice right side shift from a scrum play, the Sharks looked to extend their lead minutes later through Will Kennedy only for Jack Williams to penalised for an obstruction.
Buoyed by their most competitive half of the season, Matt Dufty (30th minute) and Ben Hunt (39th minute) crossed just before halftime to give the Dragons an 18-10 lead.
With both sides exchanging sets after halftime, the Dragons were lucky to avoid a catastrophic four-pointer from within their own in-goal, only for Cronulla utility Connor Tracey to be deemed to have knocked on.
Building pressure on the Sharks' goal line thanks to good kicking from Corey Norman, the Dragons were rewarded through captain Cameron McInnes (62nd minute) who crashed over to push the home side out beyond two converted tries.
Threatening to pull off a comeback after Wade Graham (70th minute) crashed over from a Shaun Johnson short ball, a contentious call killed off the Sharks' hopes despite Katoa appearing to pull off a simultaneous grounding alongside Euan Aitken.
Capping the victory in style with Dufty firing a lovely cut-out pass to send Ravalawa (79th minute) over for his second of the afternoon, the Dragons finished as deserving 30-16 victors to post their first premiership points of the season.
In the only negative for the Dragons, five-eighth Corey Norman looks set to draw the ire of the match review committee after being placed on report for a trip late in the match.
Next week, the Dragons face the Titans on Saturday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium, while the Sharks will host the Bulldogs on Sunday evening at Bankwest Stadium.