The St George Illawarra Dragons have fired to down the under-manned Melbourne Storm in Sydney tonight, completing a 36-12 victory over NRL premiers Melbourne at ANZ Stadium
The Dragons 3rd victory of 2008 was in front of only 6881 spectators, was their first win against the Storm in Sydney and their first in their past 8 games against Melbourne.
Half Jamie Soward who recently agreed to extended terms with the Dragons to the end of the 2010 season, basically was involved in all the Dragons tries.
Kicking to give his side their first 2 scores through flanker Jason Nightingale and custodian Josh Morris and he threw the final pass to fullback Brett Morris for the third just after halftime.
He threw the penultimate pass for the fourth notched by winger Michael Lett, scored the fifth himself and threw the final pass for Nightingale’s second and the Dragons last five-pointer.
Soward usually plays at halfback, but with Ben Hornby on Origin duty, he started at five-eighth for just the second time this season.
He kicked six goals from eight attempts to finish with a personal tally of 14 points.
Even the late inclusion of New Zealand Test forward Jeff Lima couldn’t boost Melbourne, who were missing nine Origin representatives.
Storm forward Jeremy Smith posted the first points of the game through a sixth minute penalty, but the Soward-inspired Dragons subsequently dominated and led 14-2 at halftime against the youthful Storm.
Centre Chambers scored a try in the 45th minute to cut the deficit to eight points, but that was as close as the Storm got, though Sika Manu scored a late four-pointer.
After the opening points from Smith, Soward squared the ledger with a 24-metre penalty in the 14th minute and his side hit the front with a well-executed try eight minutes later.
Soward’s deft left-footed chip from 15 metres out caught the Storm defence short, with Nightingale rising unchallenged to take the ball and score a try in the left hand corner.
The Dragons five-eighth missed the conversion but boosted their advantage to 8-2 in the 27th minute by adding a penalty from a similar distance to the one he made earlier in the half.
Soward set up another try after Storm fullback Steve Turner fumbled a ball forward near his own 20.
From the ensuing scrum, Soward again spotted a gap in the Storm defence and Morris won the chase to his perfectly placed kick ahead of Melbourne winger Dane Nielsen.
After Chambers scored, the Dragons swiftly snuffed out any chance of a full scale revival, as Soward pulled the strings with aplomb.
Soward said he felt a bit more responsibility in the absence of Origin representatives Mark Gasnier, Ben Hornby and Matt Cooper.
He said he was â€œlovingâ€ playing at five-eighth and probably saw himself more as a pivot than a half back in the future.
â€œA bit wider, I don’t have to run the team around as much,â€ said Soward, who was also on the end of a first-half late hit by Chambers, which led to the Storm player being placed on report.
â€œWe prepared well and our forwards did a job and our backs finished off.â€
Dragons coach Nathan Brown said Soward had really blossomed since moving to five-eighth and taking on a little less responsibility.
â€œHis last three weeks have been his best three first grade games,â€ Brown said.
Melbourne assistant coach Michael Maguire said the Storm had been affected by the rash of unavailable stars, but felt their younger players would get a lot out of this experience.
â€œThey put in a good effort, they tried hard, I think they will learn a lot from that,â€ Maguire said.