St George Illawarra have found their way to a third consecutive Intrust Super Premiership NSW victory, edging the Wentworthville Magpies 22-12 in a tough performance at Ringrose Park on Sunday (10 June) afternoon.
Match: Magpies v Dragons
Round 14 -
Venue: Ringrose Park
The Dragons were guilty of coughing up possession far too easily in a scrappy game, but their resolute defence was enough to earn them another two competition points.
Fullback Patrick Herbert was instrumental in the win, proving a constant threat with ball in hand, and the game management of halfback Darren Nicholls was crucial.
The result sees the Dragons climb back to third on the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder, while Wentworthville remains in ninth place.
A pre-match downpour put an emphasis on ball handling to begin the action, with both teams playing simple football and working through their sets.
That in mind, It was St George Illawarra who opened the scoring after seven minutes through an easy Nicholls penalty goal.
An error inside their own 'red-zone' following the restart immediately put the pressure back on the visitors, but their defence held firm to ward off Wentworthville.
It wasn't long before the Dragons were down the other end of the field and they were able to take full advantage of the territory. A pin-point bomb from Nicholls was swallowed by a leaping Luciano Leilua who crashed into the in-goal.
Nicholls had no issues with the conversion, adding the extra two points to put the Red V ahead 8-nil.
Mistakes crept into the game during the back-end of the first-half as the sides struggled to hold the ball in the drizzling rain. Following a flurry of Dragons' errors, the Magpies were able to set up camp on their opposition's line for an extended period.
The pressure looked to have paid off when Magpies winger Edward Aiono dived over in the right-hand corner – but the referee called the play back for a prior St George Illawarra indiscretion.
Wentworthville wasn't able to capitalise on the next set either as the Dragons' desperate scrambling defence prevailed.
With one minute before half-time St George Illawarra struck a decisive blow via winger Jordan Pereira.
After receiving a beautiful bullet pass, Pereira scorched down the left-hand touchline to register his 12th four-pointer of the season and extend his lead as the competition's leading try-scorer.
Nicholls' goal attempt from the sideline unluckily struck the upright and bounced away, sending the Dragons into the break up by two converted tries.
Wentworthville began the second-half in fantastic fashion, forcing two repeat sets in a row with deft kicks. But again the Dragons defence refused to be breached, forcing a knock-on and regaining possession.
The game was halted momentarily as St George Illawarra prop Mitchell Allgood received medical attention from the trainers and then groggily walked up the tunnel injured.
The Dragons attacked when play resumed to no avail as Wentworthville fought hard to stay in the match.
A mix-up between Herbert and Pereira under a high kick led to a knock-on and gave the Magpies a prime chance – and they finally cracked the Saints' line when halfback Rhys Davies stepped his way across the stripe.
Nathan Davis nailed the conversion to reduce the margin to six with a quarter of the match to go.
Wentworthville soon lost front-rower Joshjua Tangitau to a leg injury, leaving both teams down to three men on the bench for the last 15 minutes.
Herbert gave St George Illawarra a comfortable lead when he touched down in the 66th minute. Nicholls couldn't convert the try, leaving the Magpies needing to score two converted tries to steal a win.
An enthralling finish was set up when Wentworthville prop Oregon Kaufusi barged his way over for a try. Davis kicked the goal to make the gap just four points.
It was as close as they'd get, however. On the stroke of fulltime, Nicholls snatched the Dragons' fourth try of the afternoon to complete a solid display from the Red V.
St George Illawarra takes on the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in Round 15 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, while Wentworthville is up against the resurgent Wyong Roos.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 22 (L Leilua J Pereira P Herbert D Nicholls tries D Nicholls 3 goals) bt WENTWORTHVILLE 12 (R Davies O Kaufusi tries N Davis 2 goals)