A sterling second-half showing has seen the St George Illawarra Dragons record their third consecutive win of the season in a thriller against the Wests Tigers.
After being forced to defend with all their might in the first 40 minutes, tries to captain Ben Hunt and Jayden Sullivan saw the Dragons prevail 12-6 at WIN Stadium.
Hunt ran for 89 meters and scored a 56th minute try which came after a prolonged period of Dragons pressure after the break.
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“It seems to be the only way of winning games at the moment – just hanging on at the death,” Hunt told Nine’s Brad Fittler after his side’s win. “A big effort from our boys.”
Hunt admitted that he and his teammates had been given a fair bake by coach Anthony Griffin after a subpar first half performance.
“He had a fair bit to say at half-time,” Hunt said of Griffin’s address to the players.
“With the ball we were just moving a bit slow and they were obviously moving a lot quicker against us through the middle. He was pretty happy that we kept them to two.”
League icon Phil Gould criticized the Dragons during the first half.
“They’ve looked clunky in attack for the last three weeks, and they look clunky again today don’t they? Just not fluent,” Gould said on Nine as the Dragons struggled.
“They’re not getting in position to attack as well as the Tigers. The Tigers have got so much fluency in their attack at the moment,” Billy Slater added.
The Dragons were unable to execute any attacking plays of substance as the Tigers piled on the pressure, but were cruelled by untimely errors of their own, with winger David Nofoaluma admitting he and his teammates had let themselves down.
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“We had a lot of mistakes which put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Nofoaluma said while walking into the sheds at half-time.
Nofoaluma seemed to realize that the Dragons would be able to eventually turn the tide in the second half and that’s exactly what happened as Hunt skipped past the Tigers’ defense before youngster Sullivan also hit the scoreboard for the second try of his career.
With the Dragons holding a two-try lead heading into the final 10 minutes, the Tigers fought hard to battle their way back into the contest.
Luke Brooks was eventually able to get on the scoreboard in the 74th minute, giving his side a brief glimmer of hope, but it proved to be a case of too little, too late as the Dragons held on to record their fourth win of the season .
Leilua suffers leg complaints in McGuire tackle
Griffin will be glad to have emerged from the match without any major injury concerns, with hooker Andrew McCullough returning to the field after a first-half HIA.
However, the club will be sweating over the judicial’s verdict on a dangerous tackle from Josh McGuire which left Luciano Leilua with an ankle injury.
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St George Illawarra will look to make it four wins in four weeks next weekend when it travels to Melbourne to take on the high-flying Storm at AAMI Park.
The Tigers, who are in 13th spot on the ladder, will travel to 4 Pines Park to face the Manly Sea Eagles next.
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