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Dragons take down Wests Tigers at Campbelltown

The Dragons celebrated Jacob Liddle’s 100th NRL game with a 24-12 win over the Wests Tigers in front of a sold-out Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Liddle - a former Wests Tiger - enjoyed a standout performance in his return to Campbelltown whilst Zac Lomax’s aerial assaults wreaked havoc for the hosts for much of the afternoon.

It was the defensive resolve that would please head coach Shane Flanagan most however; despite losing Jack Bird to a head knock in the first half, the Dragons went 56 straight minutes without conceding a try.

Things got fiery late thanks to a pair of David Klemmer high shots – which he was placed on report for but not binned – but it did little to disturb the visitors’ composure as they claimed their third win of the year.

A physical opening set of defence sparked a dream start for the Dragons with Tyrell Sloan zipping down the right edge off the back of it and sending the ball out to Lomax for the contest’s first points.

Lomax’s conversion cannoned off the right upright as the score remained 4-0 before the Dragons sent up an early captain’s challenge in an attempt to overturn a knock-on call but were denied by the video officials.

Stefano Utoikamanu crashed over off the back of it adjacent to the sticks to respond for the Wests Tigers and tie proceedings at four-apiece.

Apisai Koroisau’s conversion attempt smacked into the left post and out with video officials being asked to confirm the miss via replay in bizarre fashion.

The hosts hit the lead 23 minutes in via a penalty goal off a high shot next to the sticks only for Koroisau’s fifth tackle kick the following set to sail out on the full and put the Dragons on the front foot.

A pair of offloads courtesy of Jack de Belin and Tom Eisenhuth created some space for Ben Hunt to craft a clinical four-pointer for Bird with Lomax stepping up to add the extra two.

Bird was however taken from the field just shy of halftime after displaying category one concussion symptoms pushing the ever-versatile Eisenhuth out to right centre.

The Dragons struck again moments short of the siren with Lomax skying to swallow a Hunt bomb and finding Kyle Flanagan back on the inside for his third try of the season.

Lomax nailed the conversion to give the visitors a 16-6 halftime advantage before his aerial prowess was again on show off a Flanagan kick to start the second stanza only for his unload to be knocked on.

The hosts were denied a try with a half hour to play after a Jayden Sullivan kick ricocheted back into the five-eighth’s arms and onto Charlie Staines only for an Isaiah Papali’i knock-on in the lead-up to have been picked up.

The Dragons’ defence was put the test again soon after but Flanagan came up with a heads-up slips catch off an Aidan Sezer kick to buck the raid and earn his side a penalty.

Klemmer was placed on report for a high shot on Flanagan with a quarter the clash remaining paving the way for Lomax to kick the Dragons to a 12-point edge.

The visitors’ buffer was soon improved with Jaydn Su’A stepping, bumping, and surging his way over to score off a pair of Francis Molo and Moses Suli offloads.

The Wests Tigers found their second try of the afternoon with nine minutes remaining with Asu Kepaoa popping through a hole off the hip of Sullivan to cut the deficit back to a dozen.

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Klemmer again hit a Dragon high in the final minutes and managed to avoid a sin bin as a melee erupted centre field.

The Wests Tigers attack became more expansive in the final stages as they looked to run the Dragons down but the defence held firm as Flanagan’s men left Campbelltown with a crucial pair of competition points.

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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