By Jack Books
The St George Dragons Junior Representative sides suffered mixed results in their season opener against the Western Suburbs Magpies at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Saturday.
The Harold Matthews (U16) were first on the field and quickly displayed an improvement from their trial matches by bringing intensity and delivering some hard hits and runs.
Unfortunately, Magpies fullback James Tautailalefua made a break from within his own 20m and scored Wests first try, throwing the Dragons off their game.
Several more tries from Wests, including two more breakaway tries from Tautailalefua, pushed the visitors further ahead.
However, while the Dragons were able to force the Magpies to make sloppy mistakes under pressure, Wests were able to exploit individual mistakes, which cost the home side dearly.
The Dragons regained some ground in the second half, bringing the game into Magpies half, eventually leading to a late try from Mitchell Clift.
The Magpies, however, eventually ran out convincing 32-4 winners over a Dragons team that kept on trying until the final siren sounded.
Coach Graeme Wynn cited the Dragons offence and defence as needing work,
“The first half was a bit disappointing, our defence let us down,” said Wynn.
“Also, we could have scored three or four tries but we didn’t execute the last pass.
“Having said that, I am fairly happy, disappointed, but fairly happy as I like how they hung in there, they committed themselves, never threw in the towel.”
The SG Ball (U18) followed immediately after, with both teams able to complete several sets of play early on, and had to defend extra sets as a result.
However, the Magpies took the lead, scoring two tries and after 20 minutes play led the Dragons 10-0.
The Dragons however fought back strongly through tries to Jai Doolan and Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, who converted both tries, and the Dragons took a 12-10 lead into the half time break.
Early in the second half the Dragons went in for another try, with Jayden El-Jalkh pushing the score up to 18-10.
A Magpies try only pushed the Dragons harder, with some big hits from David Naufahu, two breaks from Lachlan Hughes and some excellent football from Ben Cassell.
Additional tries to Cassell, Doolan and Eddie Faalua led the Dragons to a comfortable 32-16 win.
Coach Brad Liggins was impressed with the SG Ball’s efforts.
“It was an outstanding game, and outstanding effort,” said Liggins.
“There were a couple of patches that fell away in the middle of the second half, but outstanding effort from all the boys.
“At the end of the day, they did really well.
“Being 0-10 down, and come back against a far bigger and more physical team, it’s an outstanding effort from the boys.”
St George Dragons 4 Tries: Clift.
Western Suburbs Magpies 32
St George Dragons 32 Tries: Doolan (2), Cassell, El-Jalkh, Aufaga-Toomaga, Faalua. Goals: Aufaga-Toomaga (4/6).
Western Suburbs Magpies 16