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Jersey Flegg Cup: Dragons fall to Rabbitohs in heartbreaker

Two points was all that could separate the Dragons and Rabbitohs with the visitors nabbing an 18-16 Jersey Flegg win at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in the second leg of Saturday’s triple-header.

In drizzly conditions, the Dragons had an opportunity to tie it up via a near 40-metre penalty goal after the siren only for the wind to push it into the upright and out.

The Red V went close to taking advantage of an early penalty through a surging Hamish Stewart only for the ball to be dislodged in the second rower’s grounding attempt.

The visitors marched down the other end off the back of it to cross through left centre Zane Rugless with Brent Hawkins adding the extras to make it 6-0.

An error off the following set gifted the hosts ideal field position with five-eighth Lyhkan King-Togia muscling his way over for his third try in as many games.

Halfback Ashton Ward nailed the conversion to tie things up 10 minutes into the contest.

Captain Kyan Hjaltason was placed on report soon after for a dangerous throw however the Dragons defence managed to repel the corresponding raid with Ward wrestling possession back via a skilled slips catch.

Loko Pasifiki Tonga was injected into the action the next set for his first taste of Jersey Flegg action for the season fresh off playing his part in the Dragons’ SG Ball Cup Grand Final win.

King-Togia went within inches of claiming his second moments later only for Will Starling’s grubber back on the inside to fall into Rabbitoh arms.

Finau Latu followed his SG Ball teammate Tonga into the action soon after for the first under-21s appearance of his career.

Nick Tsougranis was placed on report for a grapple tackle 10 minutes shy of the break with the Dragons’ repeated ill-discipline continuing to gift the visitors attacking opportunities.

Rugless joined the Dragons duo on report with the centre collecting Ward with an ugly high shot before Starling was denied the hosts’ second with officials ruling that the final pass of the sequence had travelled forward.

The Rabbitohs hit the front just shy of halftime thanks to centre Aaron Macey who found a gap down the right corridor off a string of offloads to make it 12-6.

Tsougranis burst into the backfield in the opening set of the second half with the hosts’ last tackle option pinning the Rabbitohs in the corner and forcing an error several plays later.

The Dragons’ defence held Jason Hallie up over the line before Hayden Buchanan came up with a well-timed kick defusal to put an end to the raid.

The Red V managed to hit back through Ward who was on the end of a ricocheting King-Togia punt with the halfback converting his own try to lock things up at a dozen.

A spilt kick-off put the visitors back onto the attack, but a handful of big defensive plays kept them at bay.

The Rabbitohs wrestled the lead back entering the final 10 via fullback Dane Towns who was the beneficiary of a wobbly bomb just out from the goalposts.

A botched kick-off saw the Dragons regain possession with No.1 Nick Quinn finding his way over off the corresponding scrum to bring them back within two.

Quinn found himself in space again soon after off a slick Tsougranis offload only for his last-ditch pass to be intercepted.

A penalty from just inside the 40-metre line on the stroke of full-time gave the Dragons an opportunity to salvage an unlikely draw only for Ward’s conversion to cannon off the left upright and into Rabbitoh arms.

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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