Two late tries to Ben Hunt and Jayden Sullivan has helped the Dragons secure their third win in a row with a 12-6 win over the Wests Tigers at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
In a low scoring contest until the 58th minute, the Tigers led 2-0 for most of the match before an individual effort from Hunt gave the Dragons the lead.
From there the Red V repelled four Wests Tigers sets on their own defensive line before the injection of Sullivan late proved a masterstroke with the 20-year-old darting over from close range.
The Dragons lost star five-eighth Jack Bird pre-game due to a knee injury with Talatau Amone earning another starting opportunity and Sullivan coming onto the bench as a back-up utility.
Match: Dragons v Wests Tigers
Round 8 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Both sides struggled with any real fluency in attack with errors and ill-discipline killing off any real momentum in the opening 60 minutes with the Wests Tigers' attack in particular not as sharp or effective as in recent weeks.
A late try to Wests Tigers five-eighth Luke Brooks kept the game alive and despite two final chances for the visitors to level, the Dragons held on.
Brooks sets up grandstand finish
- Wests Tigers forward Kelma Tuilagi was denied a first half try but the visitors later took a penalty goal after illegal contact on the back-rower in the air.
- The Wests Tigers led 2-0 at half-time in a low-scoring contest opening half before the game began to open up a bit more in the second term.
- Ben Hunt's solo effort allowed the Dragons to hit the front before Jayden Sullivan scored from dummy half with nine minutes left.
- Wests Tigers five-eighth Luke Brooks crossed with five minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish.
- Tuilagi and Andrew McCullough were both cleared of head knocks during the game but returned to the field.
- Dragons forward Josh McGuire was placed on report in the 47th minute for an alleged hip-drop tackle on Luciano Leilua, who shook off an ankle concern.
- Wests Tigers halfback Jackson Hastings had 24 runs for 174 metres.
- Dragons prop Blake Lawrie was enormous off the bench with 115 metres in 55 minutes after George Burgess was restricted to 14 minutes.
- AJ Kepaoa made a successful return from an ACL and pectoral injury for the Wests Tigers, running for over 129 metres.
Hastings can't break through Dragons defence
Play of the game
After a man of the match effort last week, Ben Hunt stepped up when the Dragons needed their skipper most, ducking and weaving to get over the line in a solo effort.
Hunt swerves his way through for the first try of the encounter
What they said
"We had to work for that one, it seems to be the story of the last month, just holding on and grinding out the win. I'm enjoying my footy. We're getting some scrappy wins of late and fighting hard but we've got a good bunch of fellas and it's good to come out every week. It's a proper test [next week against Melbourne]. We've got to step up again if we want to be close to them." - Dragons captain Ben Hunt.
"We won a lot of areas in stats but little moments in the game hurt us. You look at the sharpness we put some plays on we weren't able to ice some of those tries that were available to us. I thought we definitely had some opportunities to do that but it didn't go our way." - Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire.
Sullivan extends Dragons lead after his late inclusion
The Dragons will head down to Melbourne's AAMI Park to face a Storm side that have piled on 120 points in two weeks.
Wests Tigers are also on the road to 4 Pines Park to take on a Sea Eagles outfit coming off two losses but who are expected to have star fullback Tom Trbojevic return from a knee injury.
The big man finds a big hole