Young Dragons Return To Winning Ways
The St George Illawarra Dragons were 24-20 winners over the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Sunday.
The Young Dragons scored five tries in the victory with second-rower Luciano Leilua banking a double.
Head Coach Ben Hornby had made one change to the starting line-up named midweek with five-eighth Drew Hutchison replacing Rhys Davies in the halves.
Additionally, Abraham Attalah retained his place on the interchange bench in lieu of Ryan James who was omitted.
The home side entered the encounter on the back of a narrow 26-24 loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs last round which cemented them to the bottom of the competition table.
Yet this fact proved irrelevant when utility Thomas Freebairn crashed over the stripe to give the hosts the opening lead in the 13th minute.
Dragons centre Topiese Taufa converted to make it 6-0.
The Dragons attacking ventures caused the ripple needed to bring the game to life with both teams forcing one another to defend their line.
The Raiders managed to breach the home side’s defensive wall seven minutes later when fullback Chevi Ellis’s running efforts were rewarded in the left-hand corner.
The Dragons replied in fashion through the muscling charge forward of second-rower Luciano Leilua over the stripe in the 26th minute.
The Raiders though managed to level proceedings before the interval which commenced with a try to winger Thoman Cronan on the halfhour mark.
This was proceeded by a penalty goal to halfback Lachlan Croker prior to the siren.
The Dragons proved quickest off the mark when second-half play recommenced and managed to extend their lead through fullback Matt Dufty’s blistering 80 metre run in the 42nd minute.
Taufa converted to make it 16-10.
However, the Raiders managed to work their way back into contention with a try to prop Tevita Pangai Junior eight minutes later.
Fortunately, Topiese provided the home side some breathing space when he etched his name on the score sheet just after the hour mark.
This was followed by Leilua notching his second of the encounter in the 68th minute to make it 24-14.
The Raiders managed a consolatory try in the dying stages of the encounter through interchange player Morgan Boyle.
Crocker converted to make it 24-20.
St George Illawarra Dragons 24. Tries: Leilua (2), Freebairn, Dufty, Taufa. Goals: Taufa (2/5).
Canberra Raiders 20. Tries: Ellis, Cronan, Pangai Junior, Boyle. Goals: Croker (1/2). Penalty Goal: Crocker (1/1).