The St George Illawarra Dragons have started their season in a big way following their 42-10 win over the Penrith Panthers at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Saturday afternoon.
It took the Dragons four minutes to post first points for 2017 when Joel Thompson sliced through Bryce Cartwright and Matt Moylan to score.
Thompson scored on almost the exact same patch of grass 20 minutes later following nice lead-up work from skipper Gareth Widdop.
A freak Waqa Blake four-pointer in the 30th minute proved the only first half highlight for the Panthers.
Lock Jack de Belin ensured the Red V would head into the half-time break with their heads held high however when he bullocked his way to a try underneath the uprights.
The Dragons continued the barrage soon after the break when Widdop won the race to the ball following a magic Josh McCrone banana kick.
While Tyrone Peachey's try in the 49th minute helped the Panthers cut back the Dragons' lead, it didn't dim the Red V's spirits.
A solo grubber effort from Josh Dugan eventually led to Cameron McInnes's maiden Dragons try in the 54th minute; while Widdop's second try four minutes later put St George Illawarra up even further.
Joel Thompson's third try – his first ever NRL hat-trick – sealed the Dragons' first Round 1 win since 2014 and their biggest win ever over Penrith.
Widdop's sixth goal of the afternoon helped him equal the record for the most points (22) scored in a game by a St George Illawarra player ever – equal with past players Jamie Soward and Amos Roberts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 42 (Joel Thompson 3, Gareth Widdop 2, Jack de Belin, Cameron McInnes tries; Gareth Widdop 7 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 10 (Waqa Blake, Tyrone Peachey tries; Nathan Cleary goal) at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah. Half-time: Dragons 18-4. Crowd: 7283.