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Knock-On Effect NSW Cup: Dragons fall to Warriors in heartbreaker

A Taine Tuaupiki conversion after the siren proved the difference as the Warriors downed the Dragons Knock-On Effect NSW Cup side 26-24 side at Collegians on Saturday.

After falling behind by 18 early in the piece, the Dragons stormed home in the second half thanks in large part to the kicking prowess of late inclusion Jesse Marschke and No.6 Josh Ralph.

Also bolstered by the late inclusions of Michael Molo and Viliami Fifita, the Dragons went ahead for the first time in the final minutes courtesy of a Savelio Tamale four-pointer only for the visitors to snatch victory in the dying stages.

A penalty put the visitors on the front foot early with Tuaupiki sending second rower Maia Sands over for the contest’s opening points.

An incorrect restart turned field position straight back the way of the Warriors who, off a forced dropout, claimed their second through Tuaupiki as the score grew to 12-0.

The visitors went within inches of claiming their third in the opening quarter with centre Sio Kalu pouncing on a loose kick only for a knock-on to be picked up in the lead-up.

Their third instead came through No.9 Jacob David Jnr Auloa who ducked his way over off an Ali Leiataua offload to continue their hot start.

Skipper Mathew Feagai earnt the Dragons a penalty out of yardage and Sione Finau made the visitors pay taking in a perfect Marschke cut-out and jetting down the right edge to score.

A grouping of cover defenders was not enough to deny the winger as he slammed the ball down for the side’s first points of the afternoon.

Marschke’s kick from the right touchline was waved away however as the deficit remained beyond a pair of converted tries a half-hour in.

Marschke pulled off a superb, try-saving effort just shy of the halftime siren to ensure that the Warriors’ did not improve upon their lead.

A quick error gave the Dragons a scrum 20 out from the Warriors’ line but their bid to eat further into the deficit was denied by an ill-timed drop.

It did not take much longer for the hosts to find their second however with centre Ben Johnson weaving his way through to ground a Ralph grubber as they cut the Warriors’ edge back down to eight.

The Dragons found more success off the boot minutes later with Marschke scurrying down a narrow short side and dabbing in a pinpoint kick for Finau who won the race to the ball to snag his second and the side’s third.

The Red V had managed to cut the deficit down to just four entering the final quarter of the game.

The hosts had begun making incisions around the ruck thanks to a number of strong outside back carries before the match was put on hold momentarily after Auloa copped a nasty knock defending his try-line.

A spiralling Marschke bomb forced a Warriors error with Toby Couchman held up over the line off the back of it.

The Dragons halfback was placed on report soon after for a dangerous tackle with the Warriors slotting a penalty goal to improve their advantage to a half dozen.

With seven minutes to play, Marschke’s boot again yielded results forcing an in-goal error which Dylan Egan pounced on to secure the Dragons’ fourth try of the afternoon.

Marschke converted the try to tie proceedings at 20-apiece entering the final stages.

A thunderous set saw the Dragons surge back onto the attack with Marschke forcing a crucial dropout with less than four minutes on the clock.

A perfectly run sweep play opened up space down the left edge with Ryan Couchman tipping it onto a flying Tamale to earn the Red V their first lead of the contest.

Marschke’s conversion attempt cannoned off the right upright as the lead remained at four.

A successful short kick-off paved the way for winger Setu Tu to cross on the siren with Tuaupiki slotting the conversion after the siren to break the Dragons’ hearts.

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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