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Dragons fall short despite Ravalawa quartet

A four-try haul courtesy of winger Mikaele Ravalawa was not enough for the Dragons to finish atop the Parramatta Eels with the hosts hanging on for a narrow 26-20 win at CommBank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Ravalawa became the first Dragon since Brett Morris in Round 9, 2009 to score four tries in a single game.

The Eels got off to a hot start with tries to debutant Arthur Miller-Stephen and second rower Bryce Cartwright earning them an early 10-0 lead before the pendulum swung back the way of the Dragons thanks to a first-half Ravalawa hat-trick.

The Fijian international crossed for tries in 19th, 25th, and 38th minutes as the Red V took a six-point edge into the intermission.

Ravalawa grabbed a fourth early in the second stanza before the Eels mounted a fightback that ultimately willed them to a needed win thanks to a trio of tries in the space of 12 minutes late.

The visitors were dealt an early blow with Francis Molo ruled out for the remainder of the game after displaying category one concussion symptoms coming out of a collision in the opening set of the afternoon.

It took the Dragons less than eight minutes to lodge a captain’s challenge after Billy Burns attempted to recover a loose Eels offload but was deemed by the on-field official to have knocked it on.

Video officials ruled the challenge inconclusive due to a lack of useful camera angles which allowed the Dragons to retain their right to challenge.

The Eels crossed first via Miller-Stephen who took in a Bailey Simonsson offload and went air-born to score in the left corner.

The hosts went back-to-back early through Cartwright who took off out of acting half and evaded cover to plant the ball down next to the right corner post with Mitchell Moses slotting the extras to make it 10-0.

Ravalawa was placed on report for a high shot just shy of the first quarter mark as the Eels went back on the attack.

Tyrell Sloan injected himself into the game the following set after zipping into the backfield off a right-side sweep play and netting the side another set after nearly regathering his own grubber.

Off the back of it, a barnstorming Ravalawa took in a Sloan cut-out and powered through a pair of cover defenders to slam the ball down in the right corner for his 15th try of the season.

Zac Lomax nailed the conversion from the right touchline to cut the hosts’ advantage to four.

An Eels error put the Dragons back on the attack 25 minutes in paving the way for Ravalawa to dive over for his second off a slick Lomax tap-on and tie proceedings at 10-apiece.

The Dragons were awarded a penalty after Makahesi Makatoa hit Jacob Liddle high with Mathew Feagai denied the visitors’ third off it after video officials picked up on an obstruction in the lead-up.

Liddle was taken from the field for a head injury assessment in the aftermath with Connor Muhleisen taking the field for his second NRL game.

Lomax was placed on report the following set for a heavy tackle on interchange forward Andrew Davey who was taken from the field for a head injury assessment which he passed.

Ryan Couchman replaced Michael Molo just short of half-time for his first taste of NRL action.

Ravalawa’s third came on the stroke of half-time thanks to a superb Ben Hunt cut-out that sent the winger over again in the right corner.

With the try, Ravalawa notched the fourth hat-trick of his NRL career and surpass club legend Ben Hornby for the sixth-most tries in club history with 60.

Lomax again slotted the extras to put the Red V ahead 16-10 heading into the sheds.

Liddle returned to the field to start the second half after passing his HIA.

A desperate Ravalawa denied Sean Russell a try early in the second period after the Eels found some space down the right touchline on a fifth-tackle shift with Blake Lawrie earning his first rest off the back of it after a hard-working 46-minute stint.

A brilliant piece of play from within their own half saw Ravalawa grab his fourth try of the afternoon 49 minutes in.

Junior Amone found Lomax with a classy flick who put Dan Russell into open space down the right edge before Ravalawa pushed away from a covering Clint Gutherson to slam the ball down next to the corner post.

Billy Burns went streaking downfield off an Eels error to put the Dragons back on the front foot. Liddle broke the line and looked set to score but had possession stripped by Gutherson with Amone picking up the scraps to score. However both the on-field officials and Bunker ruled the strip was instead a lost ball and the Eels were able to work the ball out of their end. 

The Eels answered on the hour-mark off a penalty through Russell off a fifth-tackle Gutherson cut-out to make it 20-14.

Junior Paulo crashed through off a Ryan Matterson short ball moments later to tie it up for the hosts.

Couchman was placed on report entering the final 10 for a high shot on Moses with Cartwright snagging his second the following set courtesy of a Dylan Brown kick to put the hosts back ahead.

Lomax went close to pulling off a remarkable aerial take and flick pass in the final stages but the Eels managed to snuff it out as they held on for a six-point win.

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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