The LU Blog: 11-17 January 2021
6 days ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
The Wests Tigers have beaten the St George Illawarra Dragons 24 points to 14 in one of the more entertaining matches of the round.
It was a horror start for the Tigers as they conceded a penalty try before making a tackle despite having first use of the ball, with Mikaele Ravalwa making a scintillating run before putting in a cross field kick that took a bounce back towards him. He didn't ground the ball, but it was ruled that he would've if it wasn't for the off-the-ball contact of Corey Thompson. All this happened within the first 2 minutes of the game.
Ben Hunt was able to force a drop-out quite soon after, and it wasn't long before the Dragons would be claiming another try. They were denied however when new recruit Brayden Williame knocked the ball on in goal.
The Tigers were unable to capitalise however, gifting the Dragons a 7 tackle set when they first got use of the ball in good field position. It didn't matter however, with David Nofoaluma latching onto what would be the first of many Benji Marshall grubber kicks that sat up in goal to tie the game up 6-all.
The game became a bit of an arm wrestle after that, with the Tigers going up 8-6 courtesy of a penalty goal at the 20-minute mark.
The next Dragons try was scored in circumstances almost as extraordinary as their first. Corey Thompson appeared to be making a regulation kick return when the ball just slipped out of his hands, gifting Zac Lomax a 4-pointer right in front of the posts as the Dragons went up 12-8.
The highlight of the rest of the half was when Tariq Sims pulled off 2 bone-rattlers on Josh Reynolds, one of them forcing a mistake. At half time the score remained Dragons 12 Wests Tigers 8.
7 minutes into the 2nd half David Nofoaluma ran behind Benji Marshall on a kick return, gifting the Dragons an opportunity to go 6-up, which is exactly what they did. They would be the last points the Dragons scored in the match.
The red-v would be left to rue a number of missed opportunities in the match, one of them being when Tariq Sims was unable to handle an offload that would've seen him score for sure from Tyrell Fuimaono, who was impressive on club debut. Benji Marshall made the saints pay for that one, scoring an impressive try at the other end of the field 2 minutes later.
The Tigers had all the momentum from that point on, and they put it to fruition in dubious circumstances when Luciano Leilua was ruled to have won the race to another Benji Marshall grubber just centimetres from the dead ball line.
The Dragons were given their final sniff when the Tigers made an error in the 70th minute. The 2nd of 3 major missed opportunities came when Paul Vaughan yet again dropped an offload, this time it was Ben Hunt making the initial break. Perhaps the most frustrating moment for Dragons fans came when Tyson Frizell did all the hard work beating Benji Marshall on halfway, but then making a meal of the regulation draw and pass to follow in the 76th minute.
Tariq Sims again put a hit on Josh Reynolds however it was late and high. He could be in some trouble with the judiciary during the week.
David Nofoaluma put the icing on the team display as well as his own individual one, making the Dragons defence look silly off a scrum win in the final minute. Benji Marshall converted and the scoreline ended up being 24-14 in favour of the Tigers.
The Dragons take on a red-hot Panthers outfit next week in their first match at what will be an empty Kogarah Oval, while the Tigers take on the Knights at Leichhardt Oval on a Sunday afternoon in a match that no doubt would've been well attended had it not been for the coronavirus.
St George Illawarra Dragons 14 - Wests Tigers 24
Venue: WIN Stadium
Halftime Score: St George Illawarra Dragons 12 Wests Tigers 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Benji Marshall
2 points - David Nofoaluma
1 points - Alex Twal
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (14)
Tries: Mikaele Ravalawa, Zac Lomax
Conversions: Zac Lomax (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Zac Lomax (1/1)
WESTS TIGERS (24)
Tries: David Nofoaluma (2), Benji Marshall, Luciano Leilua
Conversions: Benji Marshall (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Benji Marshall (1/1)