Round 9 v New Zealand Warriors
The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 26-10 by the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland on Sunday.
The Red-and-Whites, wearing their alternative livery, scored two tries in the loss with both Euan Aitken and Kalifa Faifai Loa crossing the chalk.
Head Coach Paul McGregor was forced to shift several members of his team around ahead of the match with fullback Josh Dugan named in the centres to replaces the injured Tim Lafai (knee).
Consequently, utility Adam Quinlan was given a last call-up to slot into the custodian's role and joined returning halfback Benji Marshall who replaced Josh McCrone..
Fellow Dragons utility Will Matthews was also named in the second-row and replaced teammate Joel Thompson (suspension) while Siliva Havili started as hooker in a straight swap with Mitch Rein who reverted to the interchange.
The NSW Country Origin player joined props Russell Packer and Dunamis Lui on the bench as well as local Renown United junior Jacob Host, who made his first-grade debut.
The visitors opened an early lead through the boot of five-eighth Gareth Widdop as a result of back-to-back penalties in the eighth minute.
However, the Warriors struck back with a break down the right hand side which resulted in halfback Shaun Johnson finding space to score the opening try minutes later.
The pivot added the extras shortly after to make it 6-2.
The Dragons fortunately managed to level up the scoreline after taking advantage of a lost ball by Warriors prop Jacob Lilyman in the 14th minute.
A swift shift to the left ensued which found Aitken with space 10-metres out and the three-quarter backed his own strength to crash over.
Unfortunately, the home side scored again through winger Matt Allwod on the lefthand edge in the 18th minute before lock Charlie Gubb crashed adjacent to the uprights prior to the halfhour mark.
Johnson converted both attempts to make it 18-6.
The Dragons though had been denied a four-pointer of their own in between these tries to deny Marshall getting his name on the scoreshet.
The NRL Bunker had deemed Warriors prop Ryan Hoffman to have been impeded in the build-up play which was enough to overturn the referee's onfield decision.
The visitors though were finally rewarded for their efforts five minutes from the interval with a clever play between the halves enabling Widdop to draw enough defenders in to throw a long pass out to an unmarked Faifai Loa who crossed untouched in the corner.
The home side though scored a later try through five-eighth Jeff Robson in what had been an error-ridden stanza to that point after the hour mark.
Johnson again converted to make it 24-10.
The hosts added an additional two-points through the boot of Johnson close to the end after Marshall had been penalised for holding on too long in the tackle.
St George Illawarar Dragons 10. Tries: Aitken, Faifai Loa. Goals: Widdop (0/2). Penalty Goal: Widdop (1/1).
New Zealand Warriors 26. Tries: Johnson, Allwood, Gubb, Robson. Goals: Johnson (4/4). Penalty Goal: Johnson (1/1).