St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty

It was a game the Parramatta Eels should have won, but didn’t. Instead, the St George Illawarra Dragons snatched victory at the death.

Two tries in the final three minutes gave the Dragons a narrow 20-18 win over the Eels at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium.

The Eels came out with the fire in the belly and were on top of the Dragons, winning the forwards battle.

Unable to capitalise early on, the Dragons then took the lead after Gareth Widdop slotted a penalty goal.

Both sides had chances to score immediately following that but it was a play that no-one saw coming that produced the first points.

Tim Mannah, the Eels much maligned prop in the eyes of their fans, made a rare line-break and found Bevan French inside to score.

The Eels then made it a quick-fire double; Corey Norman and Nathan Brown combining with the forward scoring.

Just before half-time, though, the Dragons would hit back with a try involving luck and some razzle-dazzle.

Tim Lafai started it with a break, Nene Macdonald then kicked infield before Widdop won an aerial battle.

His tap-back found Lafai before a neat pass back on the outside allowed Matt Dufty to score.

The Dragons started the second half as they did the first; flat and in all sorts.

The Eels extended their lead further when Jarryd Hayne powered his way over to score.

The Dragons dug deep and showed resolve, though, with Euan Aitken scoring and then Dufty nabbing his second.

Eels coach Brad Arthur says his side were the better team, they have just forgotten how to win.

“It was outstanding from the boys tonight, I thought we were the better team but it is probably why we are sitting last at the moment because we managed to lose that game,” Arthur said.

“We have got eight games to go, we need to make sure we play with plenty of pride, and that effort and intensity I saw them play with tonight, that needs to happen all the time.

“That is a must, that is non-negotiable and we have spoken about it. If we don’t do that, if we don’t play with that effort we saw tonight and that attitude, we don’t give ourselves a chance.”

Eels co-captain Mannah said despite the loss, the side will take confidence from their performance heading into bye week.

“For 70-75 minutes ,we felt like we were in control of the game. It would have been awesome if we could have won that game heading into a bye next week,” Mannah said.

There was nothing but praise for his side’s resolve from Dragons coach Paul McGregor, who knows they refused to give in.

“Big moments; big players. They got the job done when it was needed so that was great,” McGregor said.

“There are a lot of blokes who have played some high level footy in the last few days.

“Gareth and the boys have been travelling from a different country, with different time lines and dates, and Leeson didn’t play because of that.

The Origin guys played four days ago in the toughest environment and had to back up on a Thursday. ”

Player of the Game:

3. Matt Dufty

2. Jarryd Hayne

  1. Euan Aitken

By ricky

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