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Dragons notch last-gasp win over Wests Tigers

The Dragons NRLW squad are back in the winner’s circle after pulling off a remarkable 20-16 win over the Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium on Saturday afternoon thanks to a final-minute Margot Vella try.

A trio of first-half tries saw the hosts take a 16-6 advantage into the sheds before Ella Koster snagged her first NRLW try with Wests Tigers lock Najvada George in the bin to hit back for the Red V on the other side of the break.

Zali Hopkins crossed with three minutes on the clock to tie it for the Dragons before Vella added to her impressive try tally in the dying stages to seal a special victory.

The opening points of the affair came seven minutes in through Wests Tigers rake Ebony Prior who dove over out of dummy-half off the back of a quick Kezie Apps play-the-ball with Pauline Piliae-Rasabale slotting the extra two to give the hosts an early 6-0 edge.

A penalty put the Wests Tigers back on the attack soon after with Rikeya Horne finishing off a right-side shift off a sweeping Botille Vette-Welsh as the lead grew to double-digits.

Dragons captain Raecene McGregor showcased her defensive potency off the back of it dislodging the ball out of Apps’ grip with a textbook tackle to buck an oncoming Wests Tigers raid.

The Wests Tigers threatened to claim their third off the back of a Christian Pio line break only for Jamilee Bright to pick off a fifth-tackle flick pass in desperate fashion.

Macie Carlile was inserted into the action 23 minutes in for her first taste of NRLW action after earning a late call-up into the 17.

Emily Curtain was placed on report for a dangerous tackle on Bright moments later with the Dragons snagging their first points off the back of it with Tyla Nathan-Wong finding Bobbi Law with a pristine long ball to send the barnstorming centre crashing over down the left edge.

McGregor’s strong goalkicking form continued with the halfback adding the extra two from wide out to cut the deficit to four.

Law was assisted from the field in the aftermath with an apparent hamstring injury paving the way for Cheynoah Amone to take the field for her NRLW debut.

The Dragons successfully challenged an on-field ruling of knock-on the corresponding set to continue on the attack but came just short of their second try.

A Jakiya Whitfeld break shifted momentum with the hosts taking full advantage through Apps who stepped her way to the try-line off a Curtain short ball less than four minutes shy of half-time.

The subsequent conversion saw the hosts’ advantage improve to 16-6 heading into the intermission.

Koster went within inches of responding for the Red V off a McGregor cross-field kick early in the second half but was halted just shy of the chalk.

Teagan Berry earnt the Dragons a penalty the next set and was tackled by an offside George off the quick tap resulting in the Wests Tigers lock being sent to the sin bin.

The Wests Tigers lost their captain’s challenge the next set after performing an illegal strip before the visitors put the video officials to work again moments later only for their captain’s challenge to be ruled inconclusive.

Alexis Tauaneai was denied a four-pointer on 48-minute mark after video officials picked up on a knock-on just short of the line.

Hopkins and Tara McGrath-West were taken from the field for head injury assessments entering the final 20 minutes following a head clash but were both able to return.

Berry forced a dropout off a left-footed chip soon after with Koster shrugging her way through the line and darting over for her maiden NRLW try off the back of it as the hosts’ lead dwindled to a half dozen.

Keele Browne went close to notching the Dragons’ third the following set off a pinpoint Nathan-Wong kick but was denied by some desperate Wests Tigers cover.

A Wests Tigers error put the Dragons back on the attack with six minutes remaining, but Berry was denied a potential match-tying try due to a double movement.

Undeterred, the visitors marched down the field once more and this time found their way over via Hopkins who was the beneficiary of a McGregor kick that was fumbled by the hosts and ricocheted off the feet of McGrath-West.

Bright added the extra two to tie the game at 16-apiece with a little over two minutes to play.

An illegal strip put the Dragons back on the attack and laid the platform for Vella to power her way to the line off a Berry cut-out in the left corner just shy of the siren and win it for the Red V 20-16.

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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