Matt Dufty show helps rotated Dragons beat Cronulla

After the kick-off time was brought forwards, the winless St George Illawarra Dragons faced local rivals Cronulla Sharks at Campbelltown Stadium as both teams looked to save their season.

The home side were the first to score, as Matt Dufty punished a dropped-ball from Will Kennedy.

With the Dragons given a full set of six right on the Sharks try-line, they worked to shift the ball right and Matt Dufty found space and outpaced Josh Dugan on the outside to score.

Unfortunately, Zac Lomax stood in the Cronulla defensive line causing an obstruction, and the try was disallowed.

Just a minute later, the Sharks showed the Dragons just how a try should be scored.

Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend combined to put Josh Dugan into space and the centre’ accelerated towards the backpedalling Mikaele Ravalawa to offload outside to debutant Mawene Hiroti to score in the corner.

The scores were levelled in the 14th minute, as Dufty’s long pass out to Ravalawa gave the big man plenty of space to charge forward and straight through his opposite number Hiroti for the Dragon’s first try in over three hours of game time.

After a knock-on from Ravalawa, the Sharks attacked from a scrum in front of the posts.

Johnson and Townsend once again, swung the ball wide, this time out to the right, as Sione Katoa was left with loads of room outside Jordan Pereira and the Sharks winger dived over in the corner.

The Sharks should have made the scores 16-6 in the 25th minute through a Shaun Johnson try, but unfortunately, Jack Williams was called back for obstruction in the build-up which left the Cronulla lead to just four points.

After a bright start from St George, they looked as if they could regain the lead sooner rather than later.

With 11 minutes until the break, that is exactly what happened.

Cameron McInnes and Corey Norman both took the ball to the line, which dragged in the Cronulla defensive line, and Norman released Dufty who beat the tackle of Chad Townsend to score.

Lomax converted to make it 12-10.

The Sharks nearly crossed once more, as the ball was pushed out to Dugan, but this time the centre couldn’t quite grab the ball and knocked on into Corey Norman.

After being dropped to the bench, Ben Hunt had come onto the field at hooker, and after picking up from dummy-half and burrowing over, it looked as though the versatile player had extended to Dragons lead.

The play was sent up to The Bunker as a no-try, but after video review, Hunt was awarded the try much to the delight of St George fans, players and the coach alike.

HALF-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 18-10 Cronulla Sharks

The first ten minutes of the second half were very much played in the middle of the park, with neither team gaining much territorial advantage.

That was until Ravalawa once gain failed to collect a high fifth tackle kick, and was tackled behind the try line for a goal-line drop-out.

A set restart gave the Sharks a fresh set of six inside the Dragons ten-metre line, which lead to a messy score for Cronulla, or so it seemed.

Chad Townsend kick was cleaned up by Zac Lomax, but the young centre knocked the ball backwards, and Wade Graham grounded the ball.

However, it was deemed the Connor Tracey knocked the ball forwards out of Lomax’s hands towards Graham and the try was disallowed, with a penalty awarded to St George.

Just a few minutes later, Will Kennedy was close to missing the ball in his own in-goal area, with Matt Dufty grounding the ball after him. However, Henry Perenara made the right call, and a goal-line drop-out was called.

With an hour of the game gone, the Dragons were searching for a fourth try, as they peppered the Sharks try-line forcing yet another goal-line drop out.

Just a few moments later, Cameron McInnes provided the points after he received a pop pass from Ben Hunt at hooker, and the captain broke through Aaron Woods and David Fifita to score under the posts.

With a 14-point lead going into the final 15 minutes, the Dragons knew that one more try would all but seal their first win of the season.

Another error from Cronulla, from Jesse Ramien, St George were once camped inside the 20-metre line, piling the pressure on the Sharks.

The Sharks managed to hold out though, and after picking up a penalty of their own, kicked downfield and looked to get back into the game.

Once again, it was the ever reliable, Wade Graham who crashed over after running onto a short ball from Shaun Johnson to score.

Johnson then converted to cut the deficit to eight points, with just as many minutes left on the clock.

After a trip from Corey Norman, the Cronulla were once again looking to cut the Dragons lead further.

On the fourth tackle, Johnson and Townsend shifted the ball out left, and Kennedy popped back inside to Katoa, who was then wrapped up by a desperate tackle from Tyson Frizell.

With just three minutes remaining, Shaun Johnson’s long kick was fumbled by Jordan Pereira, and looked to be a try for Sione Katoa, but Euan Aitken beat the Sharks winger to the ball by millimetres forcing a goal-line drop-out.

Despite St George looking tired in defence, Jesse Ramien forced an offload out to Katoa but the ball came out way too high and straight into touch.

The Dragons found themselves with the ball in the final minute of play, and didn’t just run the clock down, but put a cherry on top of the cake through Ravalawa.

Dufty once again threw a long pass out to Ravalawa who finished with ease in the corner.

With the hooter having already blown, Lomax converted to wrap up a 30-16 victory and lift the Dragons off the bottom of the table.

FULL-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 30-16 Cronulla Sharks


Squads


St George Illawarra Dragons

Dufty, Pereira, Aitken, Lomax, Ravalawa, Norman, Clune, Kerr, McInnes, Vaughan, Frizell, Fuimaona, Merrin

Interchanges: Hunt, J. Graham, Lawrie, Hunt

Tries: Ravalawa (2), Dufty, Hunt, McInnes

Goals: Lomax (5/5)


Cronulla Sharks

Kennedy, Katoa, Dugan, Ramien, Hiroti, Johnson, Townsend, Fifita, Brailey, Woods, Nikora, W. Graham, Rudolf

Interchanges: Williams, Tracey, Hamlin-Uele, Sorensen

Tries: Hiroti, Katoa, Graham

Goals: Johnson (2/3)


Referee: H. Perenara

Touch Judges: D. Munro, J. Stone

Video Referee: B. Lowe


 

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