The St George Illawarra Dragons defeated the nib Newcastle Knights 18-10 in our first trial of the 2019 season.
The Dragons fired straight away, with Gareth Widdop finding space on the right edge through Tim Lafai, however the try was disallowed due to obstruction.
Just 9 minutes in, Kalyn Ponga floated a pass to Mitch Barnett just shy of the line however they couldn't get ball to ground.
The Dragons were first to cross the line, a short ball from Cameron McInnes to Paul Vaughan in front of the uprights to get the scoring underway. Widdop slotted the conversion, and the Knights trail by 6.
The Knights hit back in the next set, with Kalyn Ponga and Lachlan Fitzgibbon linking up on the left, and Fitzgibbon scoring under the sticks. Ponga nailed the conversion, and the scored is leveled at 6-6.
The Knights hit back again, creating an overlap on the left edge through Mitchell Pearce and Ponga, with a sharp pass to Edrick Lee in the corner sealing the deal. Ponga missed the conversion from the sideline, and the Knights maintained a 4-point lead, 10-6.
The Knights maintained a solid defensive structure for the remainder of the first half, with Knights fans getting a first glimpse of new structures and combinations at play.
Unlimited bench allowed for a very different looking team to run out of the sheds in the second half. Big boppers James Gavet, Aidan Guerra and Daniel Saifiti returned to the field alongside Lee, Sione Mata'utia, Kurt Mann and Shaun Kenny-Dowall while the remaining numbers were made up of the younger faces in the Knights squad.
A lucky break for the Knights early into the second half, with a would-be try from Josh Kerr under the posts called back for a forward pass.
The Knights breathed a second sigh of relief when Steven Masters couldn't hold on to the ball after diving over on the left edge.
Josh Kerr gets another look at the line and levels the score for the Dragons midway through the second half.
Mason Lino looked promising with a well-executed kick in-goal, however the chance went by, and the Knights traveled into the final quarter tied 10-10.
Matt Dufty and Mikaele Ravalawa combine on the right side for the Dragons to retake the lead just 13 minutes left on the clock.
The strong winds of WIN Stadium claimed their first victim, with a floating restart kick from Tex Hoy sailing over the dead-ball line, gifting the Dragons a restart from halfway.
The Dragons continued to look strong late into the second half and Ravalawa claimed his second try going back-to-back with just two minutes remaining, extending their lead 18-10.