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Storm outlast Dragons in back-and-forth encounter

The Dragons fell just short of pulling off a stunning win over the Melbourne Storm at WIN Stadium on Saturday night with the visitors holding on for a 38-28 victory in a back-and-forth affair.

The hosts bounced back from an early William Warbrick four-pointer via tries to Billy Burns, Tyrell Sloan, and Junior Amone in the space of 12 minutes which pushed them towards an 18-4 lead.

The visitors responded, however, with their own attacking flurry as Warbrick snagged tries two and three of the night before wing partner Xavier Coates joined the party just shy of the intermission.

An action-packed second period saw Burns grab a second before Eliesa Katoa grabbed a double of his own soon after.

A 73rd-minute Mikaele Ravalawa try brought the Red V back within two but their fightback fell short with Jahrome Hughes crossing late to seal it for Craig Bellamy’s men.

An early Dragons error put the visitors on the attack and Warbrick made them pay reeling in a Jahrome Hughes face ball to dive over next the right corner post and make it 4-0.

A penalty put the Dragons on the attack moments later with Max Feagai making a fifth-tackle dart out of dummy-half and finding Burns with a one-handed offload who dummied and stepped his way past several Storm defenders to run around behind the sticks.

Ben Hunt knocked over the extra two to give the hosts their first lead of the contest.

Harry Grant was taken from the field for the Storm for a head injury assessment but was able to return to the field.

Connor Muhleisen earnt the side a penalty off the corresponding set and the improved field position resulted in a second Dragons try via Sloan who slid through a hole off a Hunt short ball to plant the ball down behind the uprights to extend the lead beyond a converted try.

Sloan injected himself into the contest again the following set taking in a Moses Suli offload and streaking into the backfield before being dragged down by Storm cover.

The Dragons nabbed a third soon after through Amone who stepped his way through the line off a fifth-tackle Hunt inside ball and got the ball to the chalk.

The on-field official sent it upstairs as a no try but replays showed that the crafty five-eighth managed to get the ball to the try-line by a matter of inches as the hosts’ edge grew to 14.

A penalty sent the Storm down the other and laid the platform for Warbrick’s second off a right-side shift and subsequent Nick Meaney draw and pass.

A Katoa cut-out sent Warbrick over for his third to cap off a sideline-to-sideline shift a few minutes later as the visitors cut their deficit to four.

The Storm made it three tries in nine minutes shortly after courtesy of Coates who found a gap midfield and streaked past the Dragons cover to dive over in the right corner.

Meaney was unable to convert the try as both teams went into the break tied at 18-apiece.

The Dragons enjoyed a tremendous start to the second period with Burns snagging his second off a Ben Hunt chip into the left corner that landed in his lap thanks to a midair Storm fumble.

Hunt added the extra two from near the touchline to extend the Dragons lead back to a half dozen.

The Storm tied it again through Katoa who burst through a hole off the hip of Hughes down the right edge and reached out to plant the ball down.

A pair of penalties put the visitors back on the attack five minutes later and Katoa grabbed a second thanks to a Hughes chip that took a room service bounce into his waiting arms down a narrow left edge.

The hosts went close to hitting back after Sloan found space in the backfield off a Burns break only for his chip and chase attempt to be batted dead by the Storm cover.

A Jacob Liddle one-on-one strip got the Dragons back on the front foot and Ravalawa went close adding to his try tally but had his boot brush the touchline.

The Fijian international instead crossed with six minutes remaining off a powerful charge and offload courtesy of Suli in the right corner.

The try saw Ravalawa become the first Dragon since Brett Morris in 2010 to score 20 tries in a single season.

Hunt’s conversion attempt swung across the face of goal as the deficit remained at two points entering the final stages.

A chip for Sloan off the corresponding set saw the hosts launch another offensive only for a streaking Burns to be mowed down and an error forced.

The Storm forced an error moments later as Hughes raced away with the loose ball to score and seal it for the visitors before Meaney slotted a late penalty goal to make it 38-28.

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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