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The Wheel

Premium Member




Sunday July 16 2005

The St George Illawarra Dragons have bounced back to form with an emphatic 36-10 win over the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval yesterday.

Back to their attacking best and super bruising in defence, the Dragons quickly erased the nightmares of last week to record an impressive six tries to two win over a Manly outfit who has now lost four in a row.

Coach Nathan Brown was extremely happy with his sides effort, considering a loss may have seen his side bundled temporarily out of the top eight.

"It was either 11th or fifth for us. We had to play tough and next week we'll be in the same boat, because after seeing all the games last night and with the intensity, it's like the semis have come six to eight weeks early."

The visitors got off to an extremely impressive start, recording the first four tries of the match to open up a 24 point lead.

While looking sharp with the ball, Brown was more impressed with his sides 'semi final' style defence.

"Defensively we were sensational", said a jubilant Brown.

"It was best defensive effort this year for sure."

Not wanting to get too carried away however, stand in captain Jason Ryles said his side still has plenty of work to do.

"If you look at our form lately we've only won one from our last three, so we can definitely build on this week."

Obviously not wanting to concede three losses in a row, the Dragons started like a house on fire in front of a jam packed Brookvale crowd.

Defending their line stoutly, the Dragons defused a dangerous Manly attacking raid when a Michael Witt bomb was brilliantly taken by Wes Naiqama amongst a sea of maroon and white. The winger then miraculously made another 30 metres before being brought down.

A few rucks later the Dragons were in for their first try of the afternoon. Putting on some second phase play close to the Eagles line, Mark Gasnier found himself in a little space. The international centre took the ball to the line, then put on a magic around the corner ball to Ben Creagh who cantered over the stripe.

Wes Naiqama converted for an early six nil lead.

Just seven minutes later the visitors extended their lead to 12.

Deep on the attack once again, Shaun Timmins offloaded in traffic to Gasnier, who popped the ball up Clint Greenshields. The custodian easily accounted for a couple of lazy Manly defenders to score virtually untouched.

Now on a roll, the visitors were beginning to embarrass the home side. Only three minutes after scoring their second try the Dragons grabbed their third and in very soft fashion. With the ball in hand and 30 metres out from the Eagles line, Naiqama received the ball on the bounce. The winger jogged back in field looking content to just to take the tackle, but instead just brushed through three very ordinary attempts at tackle to score under the sticks.

Not happy with just 18 points for the half, the Dragons stretched the margin to 24 on the half hour mark.

Promoted after some fantastic efforts in Premier League, Daniel Holdsworth started the match a little slowly, but was the catalyst for the red and whites fourth try. Attacking 35 metres out, the five-eighth hoisted a pin point bomb into the north eastern corner of Brookvale Oval which was athletically taken by Colin Best. The try scoring machine crashed over for his 13th four pointer of the year. Naiqama made it four goals from as many attempts after nailing his conversion attempt from the touchline.

Not only were the visitors showing super skills with the footy, the Dragons 'red and white wall' was rock solid. Defending on the left hand side, Creagh was giving the Eagles plenty of headaches, putting on several cage rattlers.

"He had to have a spell unfortunately last week because his form was a bit down", explained Brown after the match.

"But he certainly came back to the play today and probably had his best game for six to seven weeks."

Manly managed to find themselves on the scoreboard on the stroke of halftime, thanks to a bit of luck.

A Michael Monaghan grubber, five metres out from the Dragons line, went through the legs of Michael Ennis and onto the toe of Brett Stewart. The fullback chased the ball through into the in goal area and dived on the ball to register Manly's first points. Chris Hicks converted to make the score at halftime 24-6, in favour of the Dragons.

The visitors nearly found themselves even further in front just four minutes into the second half. After some brilliant lead up work down the left hand side, Naiqama found himself streaking down the touchline. The number 5 turned it back on the inside to Matt Cooper who went closed to scoring, but was ruled to have been dragged into touch by video referee Phil Cooley.

From that point on the match bogged down into a scrappy arm wrestle where the Dragons weren't able to land the killer blow. With 17 minutes left on the clock, the home side reduced the margin to 14. Attacking the Dragons line and looking dangerous, Monaghan grubbered in behind the Dragons line and found a flying Hicks who touched down in the corner.

The home side was now throwing everything at the Dragons, but to their credit, the visitors hung tough in defence.

Working awesomely as a unit the Dragons finally got the ball back and in their next venture in Manly's red zone scored the knockout punch with big Luke Bailey crashing over underneath the posts from close range.

Naiqama's conversion made it 30-10 with only eight minutes to go, and the match was in the bag.

Lance Thompson deservedly crossed for the Dragons final try of the afternoon, which many would have regarded as the visitors most entertaining. After tackling himself to a stand still, Thompson backed up his outside men to score with only 90 seconds on the clock. Naiqama having the perfect afternoon with the boot, converting his sixth goal from six attempts.

The win put the Dragons in sixth place on the NRL ladder and sets up a tantalising local derby clash against the third place Sharks next Sunday at OKI Jubilee Stadium.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 36 ( B Creagh, C Greenshields, W Naiqama, C Best, L Bailey, L Thompson tries; W Naiqama 6 goals) d. MANLY SEA EAGLES 10 ( B Stewart, C Hicks tries; C Hicks goal) at Brookvale Oval. Crowd 17 218.


ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 36 ( B Kelly 2, C Maher, T Hewitt, L Dalziel-Don, R Simmonds tries; R Simmonds 2 goals, A Cawley, A Gorrell goal) d. MANLY SEA EAGLES 24 ( T Burns 2, D Peachey, M Creary, J Curtis tries; T Burns 2 goals)


ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 60 ( S Stitt 2, B Ryan, G Ndaira, J Keith, B Davidson, D Millard, B Morris, J Dunning, S Ferguson, L Te Maari tries; L Te Maari 5, J Keith 3 goals) d. MANLY 10

The Wheel

Premium Member
I thought the same thing myself MB - I will be taking a copy of it to the Q & A forum on Wednesday night.

The Wheel

Premium Member
Yep Byso, I will do an article on it as well. No photos though

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