The Dragons were unable to finish atop the Newcastle Knights in their final outing of the season falling 32-12 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.
Ben Hunt notched the Dragons’ only four-pointer of the opening stanza via a pristine chip kick into a regather with an airborne Zac Lomax posing a threat on multiple occasions thereafter but coming up just short on each foray.
A second-half Mikaele Ravalawa try saw the Fijian international join Nathan Blacklock and Brett Morris as the only players in St George Illawarra history to score 21 tries in a single season.
Match: Dragons v Knights
Round 27 -
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
An opening set penalty piggybacked the Knights upfield and laid the platform for Jacob Saifiti to pour through a hole off an Adam Elliott tip-on and dive over.
Lachlan Miller knocked over the extras from next to the uprights to make it 6-0 early in the piece.
Their second came moments later through Enari Tuala who was the beneficiary of a Tyson Gamble break from inside his own half as the lead grew to a dozen less than 10 minutes in.
The Dragons lost their captain’s challenge 15 minutes in after video officials ruled Dan Russell to have lost the ball without any assistance from tacklers despite the back rower’s appeal.
Hunt got the Dragons the board just shy of the first-quarter mark with a breathtaking chip and chase that the skipper scooped up thanks to a room service bounce and improved the position behind the sticks.
A Dragons error put the visitors on the attack but the raid was repelled after Billy Burns picked off a midfield pass.
Greg Marzhew bagged the Knights’ third on the other side of the half-hour mark off some sharp hands courtesy of Bradman Best.
Lomax went awfully close to answering for the hosts skying to reel in a kick mid-air but falling just shy of the chalk as the Knights took a 16-6 advantage into the sheds.
Fa’amanu Brown opened the scoring for the Knights in the second half steaming through a hole off Mat Croker and falling over the line next to the left upright as the lead ballooned beyond a pair of converted tries.
Mathew Feagai went close to responding for the hosts off a Lomax kick and regather but was unable to stay in the field of play down the left flank.
A Knights drop put the hosts back on the attack and Feagai again went close to scoring off a pair of last-gasp kicks with a collection of offloads intertwined but a desperate Dominic Young batted it touch in-goal.
Gamble looked to have got himself on the scoresheet off his own midfield chip with 15 remaining but debutant Riley Jones was ruled by video officials to have been offside on the chase.
The hosts came back down the other end off the penalty and came up with their second of the night through Ravalawa who took in a Tyrell Sloan cut-out and tip-toed his way into the corner in familiar fashion to add another to his impressive tally.
Lomax knocked over the conversion from the right touchline to cut the deficit to 10.
An expansive corresponding set culminated with Hunt regathering his own midfield grubber before an exchange of passing saw Junior Amone tackled without the ball by Miller who was sent to the bin for the infringement.
Blake Lawrie found himself in the sin bin moments later after taking Jacob Saifiti out several metres short of the line on a kick chase.
Gamble piloted through a penalty to make it 24-12 entering the final five minutes.
Young grabbed a late double as the Knights came away with a 32-12 win in front of 10,137 spectators at Kogarah.