Last Time Played: Dragons v Warriors
The Dragons defeated the Warriors 26-22 after a dramatic second-half comeback at WIN Stadium in Round 25 last year.
An early glut of possession saw the Warriors race to a 10 nil lead in even time following tries to Krisnan Inu and Kevin Locke, the latter coming from an amazing sidestepping run in which the fullback beat six would-be defenders from close range.
Mark Gasnier opened St George Illawarra’s account in the 17th minute, racing 30 metres after receiving an extremely late offload from Beau Scott who had appeared wrapped up by the swarming Warriors defence. The crimson-shirted Dragons leveled proceedings soon after when Brett Morris flirted with the left sideline, tippy-toeing over from 10 metres out.
The Warriors returned fire six minutes from halftime when winger Bill Tupou scored in the right corner after receiving a lovely overhead pass from his fullback Locke, handing the visitors a 16-10 lead they would take to oranges.
However, Tupou turned villain shortly after the teams returned from the dressing sheds when he failed to gather in a Darius Boyd grubber kick, with the Dragons’ fullback pouncing for a try that again leveled the scoreline (16-all).
The home side seized the lead for the first time on the afternoon through a Jamie Soward penalty goal in the 54th minute, and when Jason Nightingale finished off a well-executed right-side sweep just a minute later, the Dragons had edged clear 24-16.
Feleti Mateo exposed some flimsy goal-line defence to make it a two-point ball game with 10 minutes remaining before a Jamie Soward penalty goal on the stroke of fulltime rounding out the scoring.
It was an entertaining game with both top-eight sides looking to fine-tune their attacks a fortnight out from the 2011 finals (the Dragons made six line busts, the Warriors five).
St George Illawarra were best served by their outside backs, including winger Morris who made 111 metres, scored a try and made two line-breaks, while Warrior Kevin Locke (13 tackle-breaks, two line-breaks) was a threat every time he grasped the footy.