Four tries to St George Illawarra Dragons back-rower Jackson Ford has helped his side register a 36-16 victory over the Wentworthville Magpies, with the victory also promoting the Dragons back into the top four.
The Dragons hit the lead early after a strong run from Ford saw him barge his way over the stripe. Wenty had their chance a set later, though a poor pass into a gap from Rhys Davies was put down by Andrew Davey.
Ford found his way over the line for the second time within 15 minutes, when a downfield kick was fielded by Jonus Pearson who threw the ball back inside hitting the support runner before managing an offload to Ford who raced in under the posts. Sailor slotted it the conversion to gain the 12-0 advantage.
A repeat set for the Magpies saw them put the Dragons under pressure for the first time in the game. They took full advantage of the opportunity, with a mid-field shift finished off nicely by Josh Hoffman who dived across the line, with the Davies kick narrowing the Dragons lead to 12-6.
Despite some momentum with the Magpies in the back-end of the half, the boot of Darren Nicholls granted the Dragons their third try, with the Nicholls cross-field kick plucked out of the air by flanker Lachlan Maranta who showed great athleticism to ground it inside the touch-in-goal line. Sailor made no mistake with the conversion to give the Red V a healthy 18-6 lead at the break.
Wenty hit back shortly after the resumption of play through big backrower Salesi Fainga’a who broke into open space before he toed it ahead, eventually winning the race to the ball to ground it in-goal. Davies goal was successful to once again get within six points of the hosts at 18-12. The Magpies continued with their momentum crossing again in the 55th minute, when Haze Dunster danced around the Dragons defence close to the line, before strolling over. Davies couldn’t add the extras, meaning the Red V held onto a narrow 18-16 lead.
The Dragons broke their second half scoring rut in the 60th minute when Nicholls put a well-weighted chip down-field for a chasing Matt Dufty who won the race against two Wenty chasers. Sailor's goal was successful, giving his side a bit of breathing room at 24-16. The momentum had well and truly shifted in the host favour with Ford bagging a hat-trick in the ensuing sets after points. Sailor slotted the goal extending the lead to 30-16 with 15 on the clock.
Ford continued to worry the Magpies defence, running over for his fourth try of the afternoon with a forceful run from close range. The Dragons eventually ran out 30-16 winners, etching their spot in the top four after the Bears narrow 31-24 loss to the Rabbitohs.