The St George Illawarra Dragons have overcome an injury-ravaged Newcastle Knights by 22-13 this afternoon at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Mitchell Pearce, Tex Hoy and Kurt Mann failed to see the game out for Newcastle, whilst David Klemmer played injured for the final quarter of the match.
Tensions were high early when Klemmer and Blake Lawrie locked horns in a scrum. It was to prove the opening salvo of a tough forward battle for the entire afternoon.
Newcastle’s first try came against the run of play in the eleventh minute. Cody Ramsey made a mess of a Pearce bomb and Gehamat Shibasaki was on the mark to score.
The game swung fifteen minutes later when Pearce threw out his left arm in an attempted tackle on Tariq Sims.
Pearce clutched his shoulder and left the field immediately, with the early diagnosis being a torn pec and three to six weeks on the sidelines.
An Adam Clune bomb levelled the scores not long after.
Tex Hoy made the mistake this time, with Trent Merrin picking up the loose ball, wrong-footing Hoy and diving over to score.
With time running out in the first half, a Kurt Mann field goal gave Newcastle a one-point lead at the break.
The Knights came out of the sheds smartly and extended their lead nine minutes in.
Josh King barged over from close range, beating some flimsy Dragons defence.
To their credit, the Dragons hit back almost straight away.
Adam Clune drifted across the field and found Tariq Sims steaming through a hole. He beat Mann and dived over for a spectacular try.
The Dragons were back within a point.
With Tex Hoy injuring his hamstring just on half time, a sickening collision, with twenty-five minutes left on the clock, left the Knights in trouble.
Kurt Mann was knocked out attempting a tackle on Mikaele Ravalawa, and Newcastle was just hanging on.
With twenty minutes remaining, St George Illawarra struck.
Sims made his second charge down for the afternoon and this time paid it paid the ultimate dividend, as he scored his second try.
Corey Norman added to the home crowd’s woes with thirteen minutes left on the clock.
A pinpoint grubber on the Dragons left edge was taken by Wiliame who flashed in to score.
The Knights were brave to the end but the Dragons had done enough and recorded their third straight victory.
After an unimpressive pre-season, they are shaping up as an improver in 2021.
The Knights injury toll mounted further this afternoon, and they have plenty of worries on their mind as they confront a tough draw over the next five weeks.
NRL News Player of the Game
3 points: Tariq Sims (SGI) was immense against his former club, being aggressive in attack and defence, charging down 2 kicks and scoring a brace of tries;
2 points: Corey Norman (SGI) is much maligned but took on greater responsibility with Ben Hunt on the sidelines. His kicking game was impressive and most of the Dragons attack came through him.
1 point: Jayden Brailey (NEW) gave his all for the Knights, topping the tackle count and making a number of darting dummy-half runs.