The clash of the two defensive heavy-weights proved to be just that in the first half,
with leading defensive side St George Illawarra hosting the Eels who are ranked third best
in terms of points conceeded.
But a late flurry from the St George Illawarra side buried the Eels 30-0.
A good crowd at WIN Stadium witnessed a major arm-wrestle early, with both sides literally playing
forcemans back – it was precise, simple footy for 5 tackles – then a quality kick from each team.
Parramatta lost Nathan Hindmarsh in the warmup, the veteran replaced by Mark Horo in the starting side
as Brendan Oake came onto the bench for the side.
This kind of grinding footy suits Hindmarsh more than most and the Dragons would have been happy the
backrower wasn’t on the field.
Boy did Parramatta miss Hindmarsh.
The Eels had the first shot at the Dragons, with their game plan to obviously put Tahu up against
smaller Soward on the Dragons right edge defence.
But as they do so well, the Dragons slide beautifully as a team – shutting the door on Tahu and BUrt
twice and forcing the Eels into touch.
The Dragons too were to have their shots from within the Eels red-zone, but the defence stifled any
raids and several times the Dragons turned it over cheaply.
The first points for the half came through the Dragons exciting left edge attack, deep in their own
half – Morris was on the receiving end of a smart blind side play, catching rookie Eels player Jon
Wright in no mans land and sending Hornby on a 40m scoot to score under the posts.
In the forwards, players from both sides were bashing it up – Weyman a standout for the Saints and
for Parramatta Tim Manah was doing a good job.
But it was the St George Illawarra backs that were the difference early, the elusive and speedy Morris
creating chances for his team and Queensland rep Darius Boyd was in a firey mood – returning on every
carry with super speed and a fearless charge into the defensive line.
Boyd knocking out Eels rake Jeff Robson after a huge collision.
After a late penalty goal, the Dragons went into the sheds at 8-0.
Stats were close, with possession and tackles almost even – but the difference was linebreaks, with
the Eels unable to spark any and the Dragons notching 3 in the first term.
The second stanza started with consistent Dragons thrusts, Wayman unrelenting as was Soward and Boyd
But it was the kicking, thrusting and shouting to the referee of Darius Boyd that earned a critical
peanlty. Darius worked hard for it and got it, Cummins blowing a penalty and the Dragons getting a
shot at a try from 40m out.
The Saints didn’t waste it.
A slick cutout pass to a flying Brett Morris, saw the winger leave Kris Inu lost and the Dragons getting
out to a 14 point lead with the successful conversion.
As good as they are when attacking, the Dragons prove just as strong in defence.
A quickfire Eels raid then a pinpoint Mortimer kick saw the away side certain to score through Burt
but waves of Dragons arrived and stopped the Eels inches short.
You could see the frustration building in the Eels – they just couldn’t puncture the Dragons line.
It would soon prove fatal, with the Dragons taking their chances at the other end.
After a period of some dropped ball by both sides, the Dragons hoisted up a huge bomb through Soward
the little no.7 positioning it perfectly and while Kris Inu lept highest – the spilt ball was pounced
on by rookie Kyle Stanley – another try to the home side.
The Dragons ahead 18-0, and sealing a strong win with so many stars backing up.
But there was more to come, the Eels throwing it around widly and eventually coughing it up.
The Dragons going down into Parra territory through back to back Ben Cummins penalties and posting
more points with minutes to go – some great work by Nightingale who continues his strong form.
But with the game gone, the Eels had well and truly thrown the towel in – Soward was ready to have
some more fun, kicking and frustrating any life left in the Eels.
The diminutive half slicing through from the scraps of a kick and scoring again.
The Dragons icing the cake – winning 30-0 and more importantly keeping the Eels scoreless.