Round 12 began with a big bang when the St George Illawarra Dragons proved they were the undisputed competition leaders, thrashing Parramatta 30 to nil at WIN Jubilee Stadium and turning the tables on the team that knocked them out of Premiership contention in the finals last year.
The Dragons have dominated the season, sitting at the top of the NRL ladder since the early stages, and are now the only team to have secured nine wins.
With their big name Origin players back to their best, St George were able to atone for their 14 – 22 loss to the Raiders from Round 11 and hand the fading Eels their second loss in as many weeks.
Parramatta looked like they had returned to form a few rounds back when they claimed four consecutive wins. But after losing to the struggling Sharks in Round 11 and then being kept scoreless by the Dragons, the Eels look in trouble of not only losing their chance of back-to-back grand final appearances but missing out on a spot in the finals altogether having sunk to the ninth spot on the ladder.
It was a grinding start on Friday night before the Dragons began their big five tries to none victory with a Ben Hornby four-pointer in the 27th minute. Jamie Soward converted and the home team lead by six after the first 30 minutes.
Four minutes from half-time Soward kicked a penalty to extend St George’s lead to eight, and with no more points scored in the first 40 minutes the Dragons went to the break leading 8 – 0.
In the second half in-form Dragons’ winger Brett Morris was first to score, getting a converted try in the 53rd minute after scoring in the corner from a sneaky Darius Boyd cut-out pass. Boyd played a hand in a number of the Dragons tries, the fullback showing no signs of strain after having played in Wednesday’s Game 1 Origin.
St George were flawless, keeping the Eels from putting any points on the board while getting in three more unanswered tries in the final 15 minutes of the match.
Kyle Stanley was first over in the 66th minute, followed by Jason Nightingale four minutes later and then Soward added some final gloss to the score with a 73rd minute try. Converting two of their final three four-pointers, Soward boasted a personal haul of 14 points in their 30 – nil win.
Parramatta’s usually impressive Jarryd Hayne was disappointing, struggling all night, while veteran Nathan Hindmarsh was controversially withdrawn after an injury to his sternum sustained in the warm-up. It was the same injury he pulled out of last week’s game against Cronulla with, and the NRL will investigate whether it was a pre-existing injury.
This week the Dragons travel across the Tasman to play the Warriors while the Eels have a tough game against the Storm. Check out the odds for these exciting matches and the rest of those for Round 13 at Ladbrokes.com.au!