The St George Illawarra Dragons showed that they might just have the mettle to be more consistent as they almost came from behind to defeat the Penrith Panthers.

The Dragons, playing at home at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, went down 20-16.

It was Penrith who started the brighter of the two sides and they had all the early possession.

The first try came when Viliame Kikau, who was playing in his 100th game, charged down Ben Hunt’s kick, scooped the ball up and ran away to score.

The Dragons had the perfect chance to level on the back of a Ben Hunt 40/20 but Josh Kerr could not resist a double movement.

Their first points would come soon after, though, when Hunt’s crossfield kick saw Tyrell Sloan leap uncontested to nab the ball and score.

Controversy then reared an ugly head when Jaydn Su’a was sin-binned for a rather tame hit on Panthers half Sean O’Sullivan.

The tide turned at that point and the Panthers would go on to score two tries with the extra man.

Spencer Leniu was the first to score during this period, as some lovely dummy half work from Api Koroisau bamboozled the Dragons defence and Leniu powered over.

The numbers proved telling again when Kikau had a second, surging through a huge gap in the Dragons defensive line.

After poor completion in the first half, the Dragons knew they had to be better and they came out with renewed energy.

Su’a was able to prove his ability when he squeezed through Panthers defenders to score and cut the deficit.

The Dragons were once again reduced to 12 men when Zac Lomax was sin-binned for impeding Viliame Kikau.

The Dragons defence held their own on this occasion and Lomax would return to score in the 77th minute, setting up a grandstand finish.

His try came on the back of a deft grubber from Moses Mbye.

To rub salt into the wound that was the Dragons’ loss, hooker Andrew McCullough left the field with a suspected dislocated elbow.

Although Dragons coach Anthony Griffin was proud of his side, he admits that his side’s attack was just far too clunky to compete consistently.

“I was really proud of the way they kept trying to get into the game but we were just way too clunky against that defence, even though we scored three tries,” Griffin said.

“We played 20 minutes with 12 men and they score two barge over tries.”

Griffin was also pleased this his side was able to win the second half 10-0 but knows that means little without the two points.

“To beat them 10-0 in the second half, after all, we went through was a massive positive for us,” Griffin continued.

“It doesn’t get you two points tonight but the lesson will get us a few wins down the track.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was pleased with his side’s defence but might be counting his troops with injury concerns for James Fisher-Harris and Brian To’o.

“The Dragons were coming at us with nothing to lose and it could have ended differently so I was happy with the way we defended at the end of the game,” said Cleary.

“There was a bit of carnage. Fish (shoulder) didn’t feel like he could go back on and Biz has done something to his knee.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Viliame Kikau (PEN)

2. Ben Hunt (SGI)

1. Izack Tago (PEN)

St George Illawarra Dragons half Ben Hunt

By ricky

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