Trial v New Zealand Warriors
St George Illawarra Dragons were 46-10 winners over the New Zealand Warriors at Trafalgar Park, Nelson on Saturday.
The Dragons ran in eight tries to the Warriors two in a dominant team performance to outclass the home team in what was a special occasion for hometown hero Simon Mannering as he captained the Warriors for the final time.
After soaking up some early pressure it was the Dragons who opened the scoring in the eighth minute with the first shift right of the ball.
Dragons Centre Josh Dugan proved too strong for the Warriors left edge defence, attracting three defenders then slipping the ball to winger Euan Aitken who crossed untouched and managed to bring the ball 10m closer to the uprights.
Captain Gareth Widdop converted to give the Dragons the early 6-0 lead.
It was Dugan again this time flying onto a swift pass from halfback Benji Marshall and crashing over in the 19th minute. Widdop converted to give the Dragons a 12-0 lead.
The Warriors hit back in the 23rd minute when fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck threw a slick cut-out pass to winger Solomone Kata who crossed untouched in the corner.
The Dragons extended their lead in the final minute of the first half when a strong tackle from Jack de Belin forced the ball loose just 10m out from the Warriors defensive line.
A set play from the scrum saw Marshall creatively put fullback Kurt Mann into a gap and the fullback scored 15m adjacent to the right hand upright. Widdop made it three from three to send the Dragons into the half-time break with an 18-4 lead.
The Dragons came out firing in the second half and forced another defensive error close to the Warriors try line and Marshall again made the Warriors pay with another short pass, this time to second-rower Tyrone McCarthy who crashed over for his first Dragons try.
Widdop was again successful with the conversion, the Dragons leading 28-4.
Marshall was at it again just a few minutes later, this time throwing the long cut-out pass to Aitken who raced down the sideline and battled with the covering Warriors defence to score his second try of the afternoon.
The next points came from an unplanned when prop Leeson Ah Mau took charge, putting a neat grubber in behind the Warriors defenders and re-gathering.
The Toa Samoa international then flicked the pass out to Dugan who was caught at the try-line but found Jack de Belin trailing on the inside who scored next to the posts.
Widdop converted to extend the Dragons lead 34-4 at the third quarter break.
The home team hit back early in the fourth quarter with a slick shift out to the right catching the Dragons left edge defenders short and Warriors winger Jonathan Wright crossed untouched close to the sideline.
Tuimala Lolohea converted to bring the score up to 34-10.
Widdop then followed the lead of Ah Mau and put a grubber in behind the hosts' defensive line that was spilt by the Warriors fullback Lololhea.
This enabled Widdop to regather and score under the posts and convert his own try to give the Dragons a 30 point lead 40-10 in the 67th minute.
The final points of the afternoon came off the back of another Warriors penalty and hooker Siliva Havili took advantage of the absent markers and charged through the gap to cross under the posts against his former team.
With Widdop off the field young Taane Milne converted to take the score to 46-10 in the 78th .minute to give the Dragons a satisfying and confidence building victory ahead of the start of the season.
St George Illawarra Dragons 46. Tries: Aitken (2), Dugan, Mann, McCarthy, Widdop, De Belin, Havili. Goals: Widdop (4/7) Milne (1/1).
New Zealand Warriors 10. Tries: Kata, Wright. Goals: Lolohea (1/1)