It may not have been the prettiest win for the Cowboys given a sloppy patch in the middle, but with their season on the line, the St George Illawarra Dragons went down valiantly, succumbing to a 32-22 loss at home, in front of just over 9,000 fans.
The Cowboys, who were down 22-18 at one stage before turning on some afterburners off the back of their usual magic from Johnathan Thurston and Matthew Bowen – eventually ran away with the game.
The Cowboys burst out of the blocks, as they raced to a 12-0 lead, and an 18-6 half-time lead, but knowing that their season was on the line, the Dragons came out with nothing to lose, and clawed their way back into the contest.
Whilst Cowboys coach Neil Henry had nothing but praise for his duo in Thurston and Bowen, regarded as the best that the game has to offer – he knows that a top four finish for the club, is now out of their control.
“Manly have been very good and we’re still sitting two points behind but we need to win our games,” Henry said.
“Coming down here and getting a victory is tough and it was that sort of game tonight.
“We needed a couple of big plays and Johnno stepped up and Matty Bowen, our experienced players put on some nice plays and we got over the line.”
The match turned with the Dragons in the lead, when Dragons winger Daniel Vidot was sin-binned for 10 minutes, as was Cowboys interchange prop Ricky Thorby, for their parts in a brawl – an incident that the Dragons could not recover from.
It was this turning point, that Price believes changed the game for his side.
“It certainly did,” Price said when asked if the brawl changed the momentum.
“… we couldn’t control those early tackles in a couple of sets after that period and they scored a couple of quick tries.
“They were there to be beaten, just too many crucial errors at crucial times, stupid penalties at stupid times – the story of our season.”