How Sims' big play could save Dragons' season
Should the St George Illawarra Dragons beat Canterbury and secure a finals berth on Sunday, last weekend's individual performance from Tariq Sims will go down arguably the key moment of their season.
It's been a long time coming for the 27-year-old who has been plagued by injuries earlier in his career after bursting onto the scene at the North Queensland Cowboys.
Sims' game was at a standstill for Newcastle but a return to his hometown in the famous Red V has rejuvenated his career.
Taking on first cousin and Panthers front-rower Reagan Campbell-Gillard added fire to an already important battle on Sunday.
The pair came together in the first half from a line drop out and the heavy shot from Sims set the tone for a season-high 185-metre effort.
"There's a reason why he's the little cousin," Sims laughed as he discussed the Dragons' crucial win with NRL.com.
"It was one of those things where it was a front-rowers job to run it straight and lucky for me I knew Reggy doesn't have any footwork."
The performance against the Panthers was arguably Sims' best in years, and a glimpse of the promise the Fijian international showed before suffering two broken legs at the Cowboys.
A one-on-one strip on Panthers winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in full flight turned the game for St George Illawarra, with Sims showing too much pace for Tyrone Peachey and Josh Mansour in a 40-metre sprint to the try line.
"I feel like I dived 20 metres out," Sims said.
"It was just one of those things and a lucky play, if he (Watene-Zelezniak) got around me they might have scored down our end."
With the Sea Eagles narrowly escaping with a one-point win over the Warriors to hold onto eighth spot on the ladder, Sims maintained the Dragons weren't aware their season was officially on the line heading into Sunday's clash with Penrith.
But that do-or-die mentality had already been at the forefront of their minds throughout the preparation according to the Gerringong junior.
"We didn't know because of the Mayweather fight, we made a pact that everyone turned off their phones off two hours before the game so we only had music going," Sims said.
"That was a whole squad thing, staff included, so it helped us stay as relaxed as we could.
"We heard after the game they won by one point but we knew no matter what we needed a win to give ourselves a chance of finals football so that was always the focus regardless of other results."
St George Illawarra could effectively knock either the Cowboys, Panthers or Sea Eagles out of the top eight with victory over the Bulldogs on Sunday.
However with Canterbury finding form late in the season with two consecutive wins and a 16-2 victory against the Dragons back in Round 14, it would be naïve to think Paul McGregor's men are certainties.
"It's going to be tough because they're sending off a lot of players so emotionally they'll be right up for the game too," Sims said.
"We know we've had a dip in the Origin period and winning games is the only way to change that.
"We'll assess from here but there's only one thing on our minds next week and that's to win – it doesn't matter how, we just have to do it."