In a spooky repeat of the last finals match the Dragons won back in 2006, Bennett’s back-to-back Minor Premiership winning St George Illawarra outfit kept the Sea Eagles scoreless in a dominant 28 – nil win at WIN Jubilee on Sunday afternoon.
The last time the Dragons, labelled the ‘chokers’, won a finals match was four years ago when they posted exactly the same result, 28 – nil, against Manly adding an eerie element to the final NRL qualifier over the weekend.
The eighth-ranked Sea Eagles, now officially out of the premiership race, hardly stood a chance against the Dragons, Manly missing a host of stars including the suspended Steve Matai and Jason King, so the devastating win by the Premiership favourites came as little surprise to many.
In our Match Preview, we tipped the Dragons to win by 19+ points and were rewarded with a big win as were any punters that followed our footy tip and bet at Sportsbet!
Our footy tip of the match was to back the Dragons to win by 19+ points and punters that did so at Sportsbet were rewarded!
The Dragons have further shortened in the 2010 NRL Premiership betting markets after their big win, Sportsbet firming them into $2.10 to win the Grand Final on the first Sunday in October.
In a gritty first half just one try was scored when skipper Ben Hornby opened the home side’s account nine minutes in after leaping in the air to snare a Soward grubber and score centimetres inside the dead ball line, and Jamie Soward posted the extra two points with his conversion.
The only other first half points came via penalties as Soward opted to kick for goal and play it safe slowly building their advantage two points at a time in the 32nd and 40th minutes to extend their half-time lead to 10 – nil.
Back in the second half it was much of the same with Soward going for the two points again nine minutes in when they were awarded another penalty pushing them in front by two converted tries.
A fourth and final penalty kick came in the 57th minute so the Dragons lead 14 – nil, still only one try having been scored.
As the crowds began to get slightly frustrated with the clinical if not boring nature of the Dragons dominance in the match, Bennett’s boys finally gained some confidence and opened it up to score three tires in the last quarter.
In a brilliant display by Matt Cooper, he scored a double just three minutes apart getting over in the 65th and 68th minutes Soward kicking one from two.
Seconds after Cooper’s second, Manly’s Anthony Watmough was sin-binned for 10 after putting his knees into Hornby during a tackle, the Sea Eagles frustration becoming evident.
Then Mark Gasnier iced the cake in the 72nd with the Dragons fourth and final four-pointer, fending off Manly’s Kieran Foran and sprinting down the side line to score, and as Soward missed the final conversion the score mirrored that of their last finals win.
The victory has officially put to bed doubts that the Dragons wouldn’t make it through the qualifiers again this year after being knocked out by the Eels last season, and with a week off to regroup the Red V can now make a solid charge for the title.
Earning a free pass to the week three finals after the win, St George will play either the Raiders or the Tigers in two weeks time.
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