By Blake Edwards – NSWRL
A strong defensive effort from the St George Illawarra Dragons has seen them cement their spot in the top four, recording an empathic 28-0 victory over the New Zealand Warriors at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides had plenty to play for heading into the encounter, with the Dragons looking to secure their position in the top four heading into September and the Warriors attempting to fight their way into the top eight.
The hosts started with a bang scoring three quality four pointers within the first 15 minutes of play. The ever reliable boot of Adam Clune provided the Red V with their first when the cross-field kick was plucked out of the air by a leaping Eli Levido. In the ensuing set, back-rower Luke Gale raced away down past the Warriors left edge defence before turning the ball inside to Charly Runciman who finished it off.
Moments later Matt Dufty exploited the left edge defence again, scoring a flashy four-pointer when he raced down the touchline before diving from five metres out to plant in just inside the corner post. The NRL outcast showed great athleticism and game awareness to stay within the field of play, as well as give the Dragons a dream start at 16-0.
The Warriors began to warm to the contest after the initial ambush, holding out the Dragons for an extended period of time and finding their way into good attacking areas. However, they were unable to etch any points.
Their good work suffered a blow in the final stages of the half, when a wayward kick was collected out wide by Steve Marsters who lobbed a hail mary ball inside to Darren Nicholls who raced away to score under the posts.
While the Dragons went into the sheds up 22-0, an error riddled start to the second stanza plagued both sides. Although the Dragons finally provided some entertainment, albeit in the final minute, with a four pointer from close range to Clune handed the Red V an important 28-point win.