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Dragons down Knights in Sunday afternoon special

An injury to halfback Mitchell Pearce has underlined a 22-13 loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons on Voice for Mining Family Day.

In his 301st NRL game, Pearce went down appearing to clutch at a pec after a tackle midway through the first half.

While the injury was the big story, the brutality of the contest was an interesting sub-plot.

The first half in particular was incredibly bruising, with the game threatening to explode in just the 5th minute.

After having a Knights scrum packing down ten metres out from the Dragons line, a scuffle in the pack saw a penalty awarded to the Dragons instead.

Just two sets later, the Dragons almost had the first try, however a bunker intervention saw Mikaele Ravalawa denied by the faintest of margins.

Just a minute later, the Knights were over at the other end.

Cody Ramsey spilt a Pearce bomb, seeing Gehamat Shibasaki go over for his first try of the 2021 season in front of a sea of high-vis.

The Dragons response came in a remarkably similar fashion, with Tex Hoy dropping an Adam Clune kick.

Trent Merrin gobbled up the scraps to level the scores before the half-time break.

A Kurt Mann field goal was all to separate the sides at the change of ends.

The ferocity in the middle didn't relent after the break, with the forwards appropriately trading tries with Josh King and Tariq Sims crossing in the opening 15 of the second half.

With the scores at 13-12 with 25 remaining, the match went nuclear.

A Mikaele Ravalawa hit up levelled Mann, who left the field for a HIA while tempers flared amongst the pack.

With Pearce already off the field and Hoy sidelined with a suspected hamstring strain, Josh King appeared as a lone figure on the bench.

Many feared the worst when David Klemmer clutched at a knee soon after. While Klemmer stayed on, disaster wasn't far away.

Tariq Sims charged down a Blake Green to kick to race away and score under the posts, giving the Dragons the lead for the first time.

The Knights fought hard to hold on as the Dragons came home with a wet sail.

When Brayden Williame grassed a deft Norman kick, the game was all-but over.

In winning the contest, the Dragons also re-claimed the Alex McKinnon Cup in front of 21,770 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.