Dragons overcome injury hit Sea Eagles

The St George Illawarra Dragons proved too strong for an injury ravaged Manly Sea Eagles tonight with a 12-4 victory in front of 12087 fans at Win Stadium.

The Sea Eagles will be sweating on some scans in the coming days to some of their key players with Jamie Lyon, Josh Starling and Feleti Mateo all limping off in the second half with knee injuries. The departing Daly Cherry-Evans also left the field in the dying stages with a corked thigh, although that looked more precautionary with the game looking out of the visitor's reach.

The Dragons came out breathing fire early in the contest and after being aided by an early penalty in the first set of six, the home team dominated field position for most of the first half.

First points came from the boot of Englishman Gareth Widdop who slotted a penalty goal over to give his team an early lead in the 5th minute after repeated infringements in the play the ball by Manly lead to back to back penalties.

The Dragons kept the momentum going from there on in and capitalized with a try to skipper Jason Nightingale in the 11th minute. Nightingale dived over in the corner after reeling in a one handed catch from Josh Dugan's offload.

Widdop nailed the sideline conversion giving his team a confidence boosting eight point margin.

The only other points in the opening half came via the boot of Widdop who slotted another penalty goal from right in front in the 24th minute.

With a strong breeze at their backs in the second half, many would have been expecting Manly to even up possession and unleash their classy back line, but in perhaps the most pleasing sign for Dragons coach Paul McGregor, their defense stood tall turning away numerous attacking raids on their own goal-line.

The Sea Eagles would eventually crack them though when replacement centre Brayden Wiliame swooped on a grubber from five-eight Kieran Foran to score. With Lyon off the field injured by this stage, Cherry-Evans was left with the goal kicking duties and missed his only attempt of the night leaving the home side with a 10-4 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

This would be as close as the visitors would get though with a growing injury toll and the resilient Dragons defense proving to much to overcome.

Widdop with his third penalty goal of the night gave his team what proved an unassailable eight point lead in the 70th minute.

Next week Manly will have to rally the troops to get 17 fit players on the paddock when they host the Canberra Raiders on Saturday night in the NSW-VIC border town of Albury. On the same night, the Dragons will be looking for their third straight win when they head up to the Hunter to take on the undefeated Newcastle Knights.

Match Details
St. George Illawarra Dragons 12 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 4
Venue: WIN Stadium
Crowd: 12087
Halftime Score: St. George Illawarra Dragons 10 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 0

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Dugan
2 points - Trent Merrin
1 point - Mitch Rein

Tries: Jason Nightingale
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Gareth Widdop (3/3)

Tries: Brayden Wiliame
Conversions: Daly Cherry-Evans (0/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

Welcome to Leagueunlimited's coverage of what should be a cracking game of footy at Win Stadium. Both teams will be looking for their second win of the season, making this an important game to keep in touch with the early pace setters of the competition. Manly welcome back the class and experience of Kieran Foran and Jamie Lyon tonight. Whilst the home team welcome back George Rose after missing last week due to the birth of his first child.

LATE MAIL DRAGONS - George Rose will take the final spot on the bench with Rory O'Brien missing out tonight.

LATE MAIL MANLY - Brayden Wiliame will replace the injured Steve Matai in the centres and Josh Starling returns for his first game of 2015 off the bench with Ligi Sao & Justin Horo dropping off the extended bench.

2: We're underway at the Gong with the home team getting 1st use

2: Early penalty for the saints.

2: Repeat set after Benji hooked a kick towards the posts & Mateo got caught ingoal

4: Another penalty on the 5th tackle for holding down too long

4: Dragons will shoot for 2

Penalty goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop posts 1st points

7: A good run from Joel Thompson charging over halfway

7: Widdop kicks to the corner & manly get their 1st use of the footy

8: DCE kicks from deep in his half & Nabuli brings back to his 30m. Another penalty against Manly in the ruck

10: Repeat set after Cheyse Blair scooped up a grubber from Mitch Rein

10: Trent Merrin nearly bursts through..

Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Nightingale crashes over in the corner running onto a ball from Dugan. Benji threw a good ball to give Dugan the room to move

Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

From the sideline Widdop nails it!

14: Mitch Rein with a juggling act from the kick off but Nabuli ran onto the ball saving his number 9

15: Dugan brings a Manly kick back hard

16: 20m tap Manly after Benji's kick just rolled dead. & a penalty to Manly will give them their 1st sight of Dragons territory

17: Another penalty 10m out now...

18: Dragons defense standing tall, driving Wiliame over the sideline

19: penalty Saints against Dunamis Lui for lifting in the tackle

20: Euan Aitken loses the ball while trying to burrow over the line

22: Manly with some great attacking flair nearly go 100m to score, great scrambling defense saves the day though

23: Penalty against Manly for a high tackle & tempers are flaring..

23: Lui on report

25: Penalty Saints after Manly try to slow down Frizell's play the ball who went within inches of scoring

Penalty goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop from right in front extends the lead to 10

27: A Widdop cross field kick is cleaned up by Hiku

28: Lyon tries a chip over the top but the bounce favors Dugan

29: Marshall from his own 20m fires a kick downfield

30: Penalty Manly inside the Dragons red zone..

31: Penalty against Manly now. after Stewart knocks the ball on. Penalty against a player back chatting

32: 6 more for Dragons after Benji's kick ricocheted off Mateo but Manly knock down Benjis pass to regather

32: Trbojevic with an unhappy 1st touch knocking on

33: now the Dragons cough it up

33: And now Manly, sloppy stuff at the moment

34: & again with L'Estrange putting it down

34: Manly will work it out from their 20m line

35: Stewart grubbers through & Dugan charges onto the bouncing ball

36: Benji boots it down field again with Stewart bringing it back

37: Thompson dives on a wayward offload from Mateo

38: Benji with a chip in Manlys 20 but Wiliame cleans it up

40: Repeat set for the Dragons with Nightingale kicking ahead to trap Hiku ingoal

39: Dugan almost creates something out of nothing, pulling up a meter short after grubbering for himself

39: The home team take a 10 point lead into the sheds after dominating field position on the back of a 63% possession rate. They did have a strong breeze at their back, but most of their yards were made with some attacking footy moving the ball around. Manly held strong in defense & will get their chance in the 2nd half with the breeze at their backs

40: Back underway with big Willie charging the steeden back

41: Trbojevic has nailed Nightingale on the kick return!

44: DCE kicks deep & Dugan returns it with a 50m kick return, but Widdop cant pick up the offload around his bootlaces

46: Farrell makes a 40m run after cleaning up a Manly cross field kick

47: 20m tap Manly with a Dragons kick rolling dead & a penalty to Manly now, they'l have it 40m out from Dragons line

48: Repeat set after Nightingale knocks a Foran grubber dead

49: VIDEO REF possible Manly try.. checking the grounding

49: NO TRY, Hiku loses control in an acrobatic effort

51: Benji grubbers ahead for himself but Stewart cleans it up & almost breaks away

51: Dugan cleans up a DCE grubber just inside the field of play

52: Farrell loses the ball in the tackle & Manly will have it just short of halfway

54: Widdop kicks high but a Dragons chaser knocks on trying to regather

55: Dugan returns Foran's kick back over his 20

55: Ah Mau almost bursts through

56: Benji's bomb is taken well by Cheyse Blair

57: Dugan with a diving catch on Foran's bomb

57: double knock on, Manly will get the feed 40m out from Dragons line

58: Jamie Lyon has left the field for Manly

59: VIDEO REF possible Manly try, checking if the ball was grounded before rolling dead...

Scored by Brayden Wiliame. Kick to come.

Wiliame awarded the try after getting the ball down off Foran's grubber

Conversion attempt by Daly Cherry-Evans unsuccessful.

DCE taking on the goal kicking duties just misses to the right

61: Josh Starling being helped off after what looks a bad knee injury

62: DCE drives the kick down field & Nabuli brings it back over his 20m

63: its offload city at the Gong with the Dragons moving the ball from side to side several times, great scramble defense from Manly though & they hang on

Daly Cherry-Evans kicks a 40/20.

DCE nails a 40/20, big play

64: Stewart rocked by a Nightingale special!

64: Dugan cleans up another grubber from Foran

65: Knock on against Dugan though in the play the ball. Manly with another chance in the Dragons 20m

66: Mateo coughs it up after charging onto a short ball & he's stayed down injured

67: Benji grubbers back to his inside but Stewart takes a jumping catch on the high bouncing ball

69: Penalty Dragons 20m out & they'll shoot for 2 again, Luke Burgess held on too long after Rein nearly burst through with a scurrying run

Penalty goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop puts his side 8 points clear

71: Manly have it back from a short kickoff

72: Burgess knocks it on & the Dragons defense has been great tonight

73: Benji grubbers it into touch 20m out from Manly's line winding the clock down

75: VIDEO REF possible Manly try, checking for a knock on in the lead up

75: NO TRY, Wiliame got a touch on a Foran pass back on the 40m line

76: Repeat set Dragons with Blair forced ingoal after fielding a Benji kick

77: VIDEO REF Dragons possible try..

77: NO TRY but they'll get the ball back as Sene-Lefao stripped the ball out of Mitch Rein's arms

78: Dugan flying high to take a high drop out

78: Aitken crosses the chalk but the pass was ruled forward

79: Dragons ball 10m out from their line with a Manly attacking raid breaking down

80: FULLTIME with the home team earning their second win of the year against a Manly team depleted by injuries in the second half. Thanks for your company folks, stay tuned for our match report coming soon.