Dragons Clinch Win Over Panthers
The St George Illawarra Dragons were 19-12 winners over the Penrith Panthers at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Thursday.
The Red-and-Whites scored only the two tries in the vital win courtesy of Peter Mata’utia and Gareth Widdop.
Head Coach Paul McGregor had made only the one change in personnel for the encounter with utility Jake Marketo named in the second-row as replacement for Joel Thompson who was omitted due to a minor hamstring strain.
Consequently, prop Mark Ioane filled the void on the interchange bench where he joined fellow forwards Ben Creagh and Jack de Belin as well as hooker Craig Garvey.
The home side had entered the match in search of a further two vital competition points to maintain their position in top-half of the table and snatched an early two-point lead in the ninth minute.
The home side were awarded a penalty following wayward foul on second-rower Tyson Frizell which five-eighth Gareth Widdop slotted home from the tee to make it 2-0.
The England international soon turned provider when he offloaded a short ball to centre Peter Mata’utia who in turn darted to the try line and score in the 14th minute.
Widdop converted to make it 8-0.
Unfortunately, the Panthers managed to rally and score through winger David Simmons just shy of the half hour mark.
Panthers halfback Jamie Soward converted to make it 8-6.
The visitors followed this up with a neat try to winger Josh Mansour, who was the recipient of a clever backhanded flick by centre Lewis Brown, to seize the lead seven minutes from time.
Fortunately, Widdop managed to even-up proceedings shortly thereafter after the home side managed were awarded penalty near the posts.
The visitors seized the lead for a second time when second-half play resumed when they were awarded a penalty for Dragons utility Jake Marketo’s lifting tackle.
Soward converted to make it 12-10.
However, the hosts were awarded a penalty of their own minutes later which was kicked by Widdop to even-up the game once more.
The Dragons reprised the lead in what had become a scrappy affair laced with errors when halfback Benji Marshall slotted away a field goal in the 68th minute.
Widdop took matters into his own hands four minutes from time to make sure the home team won all the accolades when he scored adjacent to the sticks.
The pivot converted his own four-pointer to make it 19-12.
St George Illawarra Dragons 19. Tries: Mata’utia, Widdop. Goals: Widdop (2/2). Penalty Goal: Widdop (3/3). Field Goal: Marshall (1/1).
Penrith Panthers 12. Tries: Simmons, Mansour. Goals: Soward (1/2). Penalty Goal: Soward (1/1).