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Dragons earn opening win of NRLW season in Wollongong

Doubles to Cortez Te Pou, Margot Vella, and Teagan Berry fuelled a convincing 38-12 Dragons win over the Parramatta Eels at WIN Stadium on Saturday afternoon for their opening win of the new season.

It took just two minutes for debutant Vella to snatch the first four-pointer of her NRLW career before a late flurry – including a pair of aerial tries to fellow debutant Te Pou – gave the Dragons a 20-4 lead heading into the break.

Vella and Berry each grabbed their second later in the piece whilst Roxy Murdoch and Tyla Nathan-Wong also joined the try-scorers party as Jamie Soward’s squad charged towards an eight tries to three rout of the Eels.

The Red V grabbed their first four-pointer of the encounter in their opening set with a pristine Nathan-Wong cut-out hitting Vella on the chest as the Maltese international scampered over in the left corner of the southern end to make it 4-0 early.

The Eels answered back through a fifth-tackle, short-side raid soon after that sent centre Cassey Tohi-Hiku over for the first try of her NRLW career.

A Rosemarie Beckett 40/30 put the Eels back on the attack but some desperate Dragons cover held an Eel up over the line to put an end to the raid.

Te Pou went aerial to join the try-scorers list 10 minutes prior to half-time off a beautiful Raecene McGregor kick to wrestle the lead back for the Dragons.

Maddison Weatherall made an immediate impact upon taking the field making heavy contact with Kennedy Cherrington to force the Eels skipper to cough the ball up and put the Dragons back on the attack.

Berry’s try-scoring form continued off the back of it with the nifty fullback taking in a McGregor inside ball and reaching out to plant it down.

The referee sent it upstairs as “no try” but the video officials overruled the on-field decision to give Berry her third try of the season.

Te Pou grabbed her second of the first half on the stroke of half-time in near-identical fashion to her first with McGregor putting the ball on a platter via a cross-field kick for the leaping winger as the lead ballooned beyond a pair of converted tries.

Nathan-Wong slotted the conversion from the right touchline to give the hosts a 20-4 lead heading into the intermission.

Vella joined Te Pou with a debut double of her own on the other side of half-time off a sweeping Berry to extend the side’s lead to 20.

The Dragons lost their captain’s challenge soon after with video officials ruling an error in the ruck with the side on the attack.

Eels fullback Abbi Church burst through down the other end to put Mahalia Murphy over and cut into the Dragons’ lead.

The visitors grabbed another the corresponding set through winger Monique Donovan who hounded a Beckett grubber and grounded it inches before the dead ball line.

A charging Roxy Murdoch put a dent in the Eels’ fightback effort with the barnstorming front rower shrugging away from multiple defenders to fall over the line and make it 28-12 with 13 minutes remaining.

McGregor notched a 40/30 of her own to drag the hosts downfield once more with Berry speeding her way through the defensive line off a left-edge sweep to grab her second of the afternoon and 14th of her career – an NRLW-leading mark.

Vella was denied a debut hat-trick in the closing stages but Nathan-Wong took full advantage of a pinpoint McGregor chip to dive over under the sticks and make it two tries from her first two NRLW games.

The 29-year-old converted her own try to make it 38-12 and cap off the side’s first win of the season in front of a strong WIN Stadium crowd.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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