By Blake Edwards (NSWRL)
The Canterbury Cup NSW St George Illawarra Dragons recorded a dominant 32-6 victory over the Newcastle Knights at Henson Park on Sunday.
It wasn’t the start the Dragons were after, dropping the ball from the kick-off, gifting Newcastle the first opportunity to score points, though they couldn’t muster any.
The Dragons found their way into good field position on plenty of occasions, with the Knights playmakers kicking it on the full in quick succession, as well as a string of penalties.
They would finally cross when five eighth Adam Clune toed a short floating kick into the in-goal area which was plucked out of the air by Winger Jonus Pearson.
A late shot on Dragons’ half Darren Nicholls gave his side a chance at goal in front of the sticks, though a dusty Nicholls decided to apply the pressure instead of snapping the gift two points.
The decision was well the right one, with Clune providing a great long ball out wide hitting Lachlan Maranta on the chest who crossed for the Dragons second ten minutes out from the break.
Newcastle showed promise down the Dragons right-hand side, which was sparked by some heads up play from rake Zac Woolford, though were shut down on each occasion.
Nicholls invited Newcastle into the game just prior to the game, when he kicked the steeden out on the full.
Adding insult to injury, Dragons back-rower Eddie Blacker was sent to the sin-bin just two tackles later, when he knocked the ball out of the Knights grip after conceding a penalty, with seconds remaining before the intermission.
Newcastle finally found their way over the stripe courtesy of a strong effort by Brodie Jones to narrow the Saints halftime lead to 10-6.
Despite starting the half with just twelve men, the Dragons moments crossed after the resumption through Jason Saab, giving them a 10-point lead heading into the final half hour.
Although succeeding the first points in the second half, the momentum swung in favour of the Knights for a 10-minute period, which allowed them to mount plenty of pressure on the Dragons goal-line, but failed to add points.
Mat Head’s men had their backs to the wall but found a way out when Lachlan Maranta took a neat intercept, racing down field to score the Saints fourth try of the afternoon, making it tough for the Knights to came back from a 16 point deficit with just 20 to play.
It was tough viewing for both coaches and spectators for the majority of the final quarter, before some entertainment was provided through two late tries try out wide to Steven Marsters and Pearson who bagged a double to round out the scoring, with the Dragons running out 32-6 victors.