Full Time
6:00pm Fri July 2, 2021
Round 16 - Central Coast Stadium

Match Overview

The St George Illawarra Dragons have pulled off a great escape for the ages as Corey Norman redeemed himself with the match-winning field goal in a 19-18 win.

Norman missed all four of his attempts at conversion but slotted the one point in a frustrating game in which neither side were able to land the final blow.

In reality though it appeared the Warriors had long landed that final blow as they stormed to a 18-6 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.

That was when the Dragons breathed fire after a largely inept start to the second half.

An unnecessary offload from Addin Fonua-Blake proved a turning point late as Dufty put Gerard Beale over.

The Warriors then inexplicably failed to clean up a Jack Bird grubber as the Dragons centre pounced to reduce the margin to four.

The Dragons then forced a late dropout and caused a boilover as Cody Ramsey raced over on the siren to level the scores.

Norman missed every conversion in the game, meaning it went to golden point despite the away side scoring one more try.

The Warriors continued to lose their way and it was a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck error that handed the Dragons the win.

For the majority of the game Dragons fans were left disheartened, wondering if only the entire team played with the heart of halfback Ben Hunt.

It is a sentiment that will still linger in the Red V faithful regardless of the late flurry of points.

From scoring their only try of the opening half to relentless chasing a Corey Norman kick to force a dropout and coming up with a try-saving tackle soon after - Hunt did all he could while Paul Vaughan and Matt Dufty also did more than enough.

The Warriors though proved a far more cohesive and determined unit as a whole in a crucial victory.

It was far closer than Nathan Brown would have liked though, with the Dragons scoring two quick-fire tries as Norman's wayward goal-kicking proved the difference.

The Dragons had all the running early with the error-prone and ill-disciplined Warriors failing to build any real pressure.

Hunt, who impressed a fortnight ago against Canberra, was once again taking it upon himself to dictate terms for the away side.

Hunt ran for 85 metres and forced two drop outs in the opening half while also scoring the Dragons' only try of the opening 40 minutes.

It came after he took the ball right up to the line and linked with Paul Vaughan who then offloaded for the Dragons halfback who was backing up in support.

Vaughan was enormous in the opening half as he ran for 154 metres.

The Warriors really came to life in the final 10 minutes of the half though, with Wayde Egan exposing a poor defensive effort from Norman to score the home team's first.

Chad Townsend then turned it inside for a rampaging Eliesa Katoa to charge over for the second of the night.

Townsend had some classy touches early off the boot but struggled after appearing to injure his shoulder early in the half.

The Warriors carried the momentum into the second, playing a fast-paced and up-tempo style of footy that had the Dragons forwards retreating.

It eventually led to points as Egan put Bunty Afoa over to extend the lead to 12.

Hunt continued to try and desperately get the Dragons into the contest again, relentlessly chasing down a Norman kick midway through the second to force a dropout.

The errors though continued to pile up as the Dragons struggled to build the same sort of pressure they had in the first.

We all know what happened from there though.

The Warriors though may be counting the costs of the defeat.

Tohu Harris failed an HIA test and also had a shoulder issue while Katoa also came off with a shoulder concern and eventually failed to finish after initially returning.

The Warriors play the Sharks next week while the Dragons have the bye.

3. Ben Hunt

All effort from Hunt who continue to try spark a fightback. Scored a try, kicked well and was a constant presence in defence.

2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

A horror moment late but a strong captain's knock with brilliant kick returns.

1. Paul Vaughan

Ran for a game-high 256 metres in a typical workhorse performance.