Dragons lose Benji but thump Warriors
For the second week in a row the Dragons have produced an attacking masterclass to record a resounding victory, thrashing the Warriors 36-0 on Saturday night.
The victory ensures St George Illawarra will remain in the Telstra Premiership's top eight for at least another week, but potentially serious injuries to Benji Marshall and Will Matthews took some of the shine off the big win.
The Warriors hadn't beaten St George Illawarra since 2007, and never looked like changing that at Wellington's Westpac Stadium as they leaked six tries to slump to their heaviest defeat since May 2013.
After stellar performances last week against the Knights halves Gareth Widdop and Marshall wasted no time in combining again, with both having touches in the Dragons' first try.
After Widdop created space in the middle of the park with some footwork, Marshall threw a cut-out ball to a diving Justin Hunt, who went over in the far right corner for a 4-0 lead.
Minutes later Marshall left the field with a hamstring complaint and didn't return.
Despite the Warriors enjoying the better field positioning it was Dragons who got over the line next, in a try which was created and finished by Mitch Rein.
After catching Sam Tomkins off guard with a driven grubber in goal, the hooker darted from dummy half on the ensuing set and crossed for the easiest of four-pointers.
Widdop's conversion made it 10-0.
Try as they may the Warriors couldn't get anything past the staunch Dragons line, coming up empty handed despite forcing three lots of back-to-back sets in the first period.
Five minutes into the second half and Rein was at it again, this time turning provider when he chipped from the play the ball and interchange player Jake Marketo jumped over Solomone Kata to dot down for St George Illawarra's third.
In the next five minutes the Warriors would leak points on a further two occasions.
First Euan Aitken found space down the left edge before passing back to Peter Mata'utia who did the rest, followed by a Widdop stroll over after former Warrior Leeson Ah Mau put the Kiwi side on the back foot earlier in the set with a mid-field break.
A final try to Tyson Frizell on 57 minutes – running an excellent line off the right shoulder of Widdop – coupled with two penalty goals from Widdop blew the score out to 36-0.
That was how the game finished, as St George Illawarra continued their recovery from a mid-season slump which saw them lose seven games in a row.
The Dragons now get ready to face ladder leaders Brisbane at Suncorp on Friday night, while the Warriors have the Panthers on the road in what will almost certainly be a must win match if they want to play finals footy in 2015.
Dragons 36 (Justin Hunt, Mitch Rein, Jake Marketo, Peter Mata'utia, Gareth Widdop, Tyson Frizell tries; Gareth Widdop 6 goals) defeated Warriors 0 at Westpac Stadium. Half-time: 10-0. Crowd: 18,317.