St George Illawarra halfback Ben Hunt has taken responsibility for the Dragons' second-half fade-out against Wests Tigers on Sunday night after a damning self-assessment of his kicking game.
Hunt forced two repeat sets with grubbers into the in-goal area early in the match and broke the defensive during the dying stages of the 24-14 loss only for his pass to prop Paul Vaughan to go to ground as the Dragons bombed five tries.
Centre Brayden Williame and winger Mikaele Ravalawa both failed to ground Hunt grubbers, while second-rower Tariq Sims lost the ball over the line in the first half and was unable to catch a pass from Tyson Frizell late in the match.
However, Hunt was disappointed he failed to maintain control of the match as the Tigers stormed back from a 12-8 half-time deficit to snatch victory through late tries by Luciano Leilua and David Nofoaluma.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Wests Tigers
“We created a few chances and obviously bombed a few tries but in the way of creating pressure I think I let us down,” Hunt said.
“To be honest I thought my kicking game was terrible, to say the least. I had probably two kicks all night that I felt were good kicks. I know we bombed tries but you can’t expect to win games if you turn over possession and don’t build pressure.”
Hunt made the Dragons' first error in the 24th minute when he kicked out on the full and by half-time, momentum was shifting away from the hosts after they completed just one of their last six sets of six in the opening stanza.
In the second half it was even worse, with five errors in 11 sets of possession and a 4-1 penalty count ensuring St George Illawarra had just 28 per cent possession as they were repeatedly forced to defend their own try line.
“The second half I just seemed to spray a few kicks and let the pressure off them,” Hunt said. “I don’t think we were impatient in the way of building chances, it was just poor execution.
“There were a couple of guys over the line but the pass was off or they dropped the ball or things like that.”
Hunt also took responsibility for the pass to Vaughan, who had the line wide open and appeared destined to score in the 73rd minute.
Frizell broke into the clear on the left edge two minutes later but Sims was unable to take his pass.
“I know he dropped it but that wasn’t the best pass, it was a bit low for him,” Hunt said of Vaughan.
“That was just another opportunity and there was the one where we went down our right and Tariq dropped it over the line, then they went down the other end and scored.
“That was probably the big turning point in the game. We were under the pump after that. There were a lot of opportunities that we missed and we cost ourselves.”
However, Hunt said there were plenty of positives the Dragons could take from the match before Friday night’s match against Penrith at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.
“We created enough opportunities to score points we just didn’t’ execute well enough but maybe next week those things will come off,” he said.
“I was pretty confident about the way we defended tonight, we spent a lot of time defending our try line and I thought we held them out pretty well until that last try off the scrum.”