The good news for the Dragons is that they are finally winning games in a grinding fashion. Tonights win was ugly, but regardless the resurgent St George Illawarra side has made it 5 straight victories with a 13-12 NRL win over Penrith at ANZ Stadium.
There was an element of luck in the victory, but confident sides make their own luck a lot of the time and in an instant; just after halftime the Dragons put on 2 quick-fire tries ultimately turning the game before Jamie Soward clinched the win with a field goal eight minutes from time.
Behind by 12-0 after a poor first half, the Dragons didn’t look likely to secure their first 5-match winning streak since 2006.
Then in the space of three minutes, the game turned, the Dragons going back-to-back to lock up the scores against a Penrith side which suddenly looked like it had run out of gas.
St George Illawarra’s first try came via a terrific Ben Creagh run, Jarrod Sammut given no chance of stopping the runaway train as Creagh slammed the ball over the line.
Sammut was again caught out as a Soward chip kick from inside his own half, the headgeared No.6 regathering before finding Josh Morris.
Jason Nightingale knocked on from the kick-off but the Panthers had run out of legs, and on the back of a string of dubious penalties the Dragons marched downfield.
Showing a lack killer instinct, the Dragons went for a sideline penalty goal and a 68th minute field goal in a bid to break the deadlock, Soward making amends with his second attempt at the one-pointer four minutes later.
While the Panthers ushered in a new era by blooding gun youngsters Wade Graham and Masada Iosefa into the top grade, it was the Dragons who were out of sync to start the game after a backline reshuffle from coach Nathan Brown.
Test centre Mark Gasnier was moved to the wing in defence and fullback in attack, but it mattered little as Rhys Wesser opened the scoring after seven minutes when he backed up a bust from Panthers backrower Trent Waterhouse.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Wesser made his way up the tunnel shortly after, his night over due to an abdominal tear to force the Panthers into a reshuffle similar to that of the Dragons.
St George Illawarra turned up the heat defensively in a bid to find a spark, but it was the Panthers who had the better of the opportunities as they threatened a massive upset.
They were denied by some great poor finishing and desperate scrambling from the home side until Luke Lewis scored one of the softer tries of his career as he stepped over from short range.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 13 (B Creagh J Morris tries J Soward 2 goals J Soward field goal)
PENRITH 12 (L Lewis R Wesser tries S Rodney J Sammut goals)