By Jesse Godfrey
The Young Dragons have overcome the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 46-22 in a top four clash at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Sunday morning.
From the kick-off, the Dragons suffered a big blow when prop Matt Sheppard felt the full brunt of the Manly defence and was assisted off the field with concussion, which he failed to return from.
The Sea Eagles capitalised almost instantly when winger Jade Anderson scored the first try in the third minute.
Six minutes later, the Dragons pushed ahead thanks to a beautiful grubber kick from Jackson Willis for winger Jason Gillard. Willis nailed the conversion from the sideline to give the home side a 6-4 lead.
Gillard found some space out wide again in the 13th minute and found support inside in centre Reuben Garrick to score under the posts.
Jai Field contributed to the Dragons' next when he found support in Willis who ran 40 metres to score under the posts.
Field was in the thick of it again just moments later when he lofted a beautiful cut out pass to Gillard for his second try – the Dragons heading to the sheds up 20 points.
Garrick and Gillard combination were at it again straight after half-time when Garrick found support in Gillard to grab his hat-trick.
Two minutes later, Tristan Sailor broke straight through and went in under the posts to put the Dragons ahead 30 points.
In the 57th minute, Anderson found a huge hole in the Dragons defence to score out wide. Sea Eagles back-rower Haumole Olakau’atu and Cade Cust backed it up soon after to make it 34-18.
Field had a hand in yet another try, this time for Jackson Ford who he found in support to score under the posts. The Dragons dominance continued when winger Steven Marsters crossed over out wide straight after.
In the shadows of full-time, Manly's Olakau’atu broke straight through to score his second try though it didn’t prevent the Dragons' 24-point win.
St George Illawarra Dragons 46 (Jason Gillard 3, Jackson Willis, Tristan Sailor, Jackson Ford, Steven Marsters, Reuben Garrick tries, Jackson Willis 6 goals, Jai Field 1 goal) defeated Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22 (Jade Anderson 2, Haumole Olakau’atu 2, Cade Cust tries, Jade Anderson 1 goal) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Half-time: Dragons 24-4.