A 78th minute field goal to Zac Lomax and late try to Mat Feagai has helped the Dragons snap a four-game losing streak with a 21-16 win over Newcastle on Sunday.
Lomax broke a 16-16 deadlock with two minutes left on the clock before the Dragons kept the ball alive on the last on the stroke of full-time with Feagai crossing for his second of the afternoon in the win.
It was an enthralling encounter between the two clubs, who were equally as desperate to turn their early season form around after sluggish starts.
The Dragons enjoyed 56 percent of possession in the opening half to set up an 8-0 lead but didn't have it all their way with Newcastle repelling their attack and hitting the lead midway through the second half.
Back-to-back tries to Jack Bird (51st minute) and Feagai (53rd minute) got the Red V back in front but the Knights had another say when Kalyn Ponga crossed a short time later to level the scores.
From there, it was an end-to-end contest with the Dragons and Knights battling out the final quarter of the game before Lomax's one-pointer split the sides.
Lomax field goal puts the Dragons ahead
Earlier, a penalty goal for a late shot after a kick enabled the Dragons to take a 2-0 advantage before Andrew McCullough made a mockery of his former teammates to catch defenders napping close to the line.
Newcastle weren't afraid to throw the ball around despite being down on the scoreboard and managed to jag a try back before half-time with Tyson Frizell and Ponga keeping the ball alive to send Enari Tuali over on the right edge.
The Knights hit the lead after the break in the 48th minute when Dane Gagai finished off a frantic last-play but couldn't hold on as the Dragons stormed home to secure the win.
Match: Dragons v Knights
Round 6 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
- The Dragons remain unbeaten over the Knights at WIN Stadium since 2011.
- The Dragons have now won five of their last seven games against the Knights.
- The Dragons secure the Alex McKinnon Cup for the seventh time between the two clubs.
- Jack Bird has now scored six tries in seven games against the Knights.
- Knights winger Edrick Lee made a memorable return to the NRL after more than 500 days on the sidelines due to a foot injury.
- Dragons centre Moses Suli proved difficult to stop all afternoon, finishing the match with 181 metres and eight tackle busts.
- Newcastle averaged 49.1 metres per set to the Dragons' 43.6 but struggled with last play options.
- Knights forward Brodie Jones left the field late with cramp.
- The Knights lost Adam Clune (knee) before the game with Phoenix Crossland coming into the starting side.
Play of the game
Zac Lomax went from villain to hero in the second half when he slotted the 78th minute field goal to get the Dragons home.
Lomax copped some criticism during the match for taking out Tyson Frizell after the Knights back-rower fumbled the ball in-goal that led to Jack Bird's try.
The incident had Lomax warned and the Dragons centre a target for the Knights, who had some success down his edge throughout the afternoon.
However, Lomax had the last say to kick home the match-winner.
Lomax antagonises Frizell
What they said
"I think the good part for us is that we had to win it two or three times. A couple of weeks ago we probably wouldn't have won that game. I think we got some belief and a lot of good lessons out of today. I was just really proud of them, they kept coming. Our execution wasn't what it needed to be but there were good periods and it was built off the back of long periods of possession, We completed at about 90 per cent and it just allowed us to get a bit of rhythm in our attack": Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
St George Illawarra Dragons
"I don't want to be that coach, but we had some guys have an off day and I reckon there were other people who had an off day today, as well. At the end of the day we have got our own back yard to clean up. It is frustrating. I thought we played some entertaining footy, some attractive footy but unfortunately there is two sides to that and we got done on some micro-sleeps. The team knows that Andrew McCullough is going to test you on the tryline. We talked about it all week. We had a micro-sleep on the tryline and we get done": Knights coach Adam O'Brien.
The Dragons will have an eight-day turnaround before they prepare to host the Roosters at the SCG in the annual ANZAC day clash.
Newcastle will return home to McDonald Jones Stadium for a Sunday afternoon classic against the Eels.
Dane Gagai puts the Knights ahead after entertaining scramble
Knights coach Adam O'Brien is hoping to have Adam Clune available after he was a late withdrawal on Sunday due to injury.