2 days ago
Dragons get back on the bus in Mudgee
It wasn't the prettiest game, but it was much needed from the Dragons, they get back in the winner's circle with a 25-18 victory, making it five of their last six, against the Raiders.
Dragons weren't at their sparkling best, like the opening eight weeks of the season, but it was enough - a steady diet of penalty goals aided by some superb tries, one by live-wire fullback, Matt Dufty gave them a two point buffer at the top of the ladder again.
They had an inauspicious start as Dufty dropped the first kick of the game. It set a tone, as the two sides struggled to find their rhythm in the first half - Raiders found the line twice, through strength via Nick Cotric, and a bizzare passage of play that saw Joseph Leilua stroll over, Ricky Stuart's men dominated the Dragons through the middle of the ruck, forcing the competition leaders into some uncharacteristic errors.
Much like the game against Rabbitohs last week, the Dragons were stunted in attack. Most of their attacks in the first half were snuffed out by the Raiders, especially, Blake Austin, making some key tackles on Tariq Sims. The Raiders conversely looked like the team that cut through the competition in previous seasons, on point for the upset.
When Rapana strode away from another grass roots error from the Saints, the Raiders looked on course to slay the Dragons. From there though, Rapana was sin-binned, Matthew Dufty took control of the contest, setting up Gareth Widdop's leveller before turning the afterburners on 24-18. Lastly, the cool headed field goal from Widdop with three minutes to go sealed another frustrating afternoon for the Raiders.
Dragons coach Paul Mcgregor will be happy to leave Mudgee with the two points, but coming into a heavy period for the Dragons, has some issues to sort out namely the excessive penalties and errors, that almost cruelled them the last fortnight.
For the Raiders, Ricky Stuart might be at a dead end. His team played so well this afternoon, like much of the season and come home with nothing. He is also staring down the barrell of their season being over before the halfway mark, which won't sit well.
The win for the Dragons sets them up with a mouth-watering clash against second-placed Penrith next Saturday night at Panthers Stadium, while the Raiders head home to host Manly next Friday.
St George Illawarra Dragons 25 - Canberra Raiders 18
Venue: Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium
Halftime Score: St George Illawarra Dragons 10 Canberra Raiders 10
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Matthew Dufty
2 points - Gareth Widdop
1 points - Aidan Sezer
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (25)
Tries: Jack de Belin, Gareth Widdop, Matthew Dufty
Field Goals: Gareth Widdop (1/1)
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Gareth Widdop (3/3)
CANBERRA RAIDERS (18)
Tries: Nick Cotric, Joseph Leilua, Jordan Rapana
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (1/1)