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Dragons take down Wests Tigers in Mudgee trial

The Dragons’ preseason trip to Mudgee proved a successful one with Shane Flanagan’s men coming away with a 34-18 trial win over the Wests Tigers.

It was the Red V’s edge and middle men running riot to lay on early points but it was the effort on the other side of the ball that best encapsulated the work done over the offseason with the visitors unable to crack the Dragons defensive line from their opening 20 tackles in the 20-metre zone.

As many of the starters gradually left the field, the game opened up, but it did little to worry the Dragons who managed to come away with nice win in front of the Mudgee faithful.

A Jacob Liddle dart earnt the Dragons an early penalty to put them on the front foot only for a strip penalty later in the set to be overturned via a captain’s challenge handing possession back the way of the Wests Tigers.

A near-70-metre Tyrell Sloan break led to the opening points of the night with halves partners Kyle Flanagan and Ben Hunt linking off the back of it via the boot of the five-eighth.

Hunt hounded Flanagan’s fifth-tackle, cross-field kick and wrestled the ball off opposite No.7 Aidan Sezer in-goal to slam it down with Lomax adding the extra two to make it 6-0.

An incorrect restart put the Dragons straight back on the attack and Moses Suli obliged storming back against the grain underneath a scheming Liddle to power his way through several defenders and find the stripe.

The Red V’s dominant start continued off the back of a Jahream Bula error with a barnstorming Suli carry penetrating the Wests Tigers defensive line and laying the platform for a rampaging Mikaele Ravalawa to charge his way over for the side’s third try.

Liddle’s sharp opening persisted with the nippy rake shooting into space off a Tom Eisenhuth offload and earning the Dragons an extra set with Suli crossing for a second off the back of it only for the video officials to deny it.

The Dragons were just as impressive with their backs against the wall holding off numerous attacking raids before spreading their wings with ball in hand for their fourth of the first half.

Hunt notched his second try off a fifth-tackle shift down the right-hand corridor with a Sloan flick pass finding Jack Bird who dribbled the ball out the back to a supporting Viliami Fifita and finally to the skipper who managed to regain his own grubber and score.

The Wests Tigers snagged their first points on the stroke of the break with a sweeping Jahream Bula slipping into the backfield and stepping his way over as the halftime scoreboard read 24-6.

The halftime break did little to curtail the Dragons’ attack with Zac Lomax crossing for the side’s fifth less than five minutes into the second stanza after a Jaydn Su’A break put the Red V back onto the attack and laid the platform for Bird to put boot to ball and send his winger over in the right corner.

The Wests Tigers came up with an answer via Fonua Pole who took in a Jayden Sullivan flick to slide over under the sticks.

The Dragons found success through another fifth-tackle raid with Hunt poking his nose through and finding Raymond Faitala-Mariner with an offload who sent a supporting Sloan over with Lomax converting the try to make it 34-12.

Hunt earnt an early spell off the back of the try as Jesse Marschke took to the field to join the likes of Connor Muhleisen, Toby Couchman, and Christian Tuipulotu who backed up from their Knock-On Effect NSW Cup trial win earlier in the afternoon.

Tuipulotu nearly joined the try-scorers list soon after but was denied in the left corner after video officials picked up a knock-on in the grounding.

Heath Mason grabbed a late one for the Wests Tigers off the back of a downtown penalty, but it proved a consolation prize as the Red V held on for a 16-point win to finish off the NRL’s Pre-Season Challenge.

Mudgee Trial Highlights: Dragons vs Wests Tigers

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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