DRAGONS 31 WARRIORS 12
St George Illawarra have come home strongly with the wind at their backs to score a 31-12 win that extends their NRL dominance over the Warriors.
The victory in Auckland was set up by two tries in three minutes early in the second half and sealed by a length-of-the-field try by Brett Morris.
The winger grabbed a Warriors kick into the in-goal in the 69th minute to race away for his 99th first-grade try.
After a Gareth Widdop field goal, skipper Ben Creagh added the icing with his side’s fifth four-pointer in the final minute.
The result gave the Dragons back-to-back wins to start the season and meant they have beaten the Warriors in their last nine meetings dating back to 2008.
It also left the Warriors waiting for their first win of the year, and their first at Eden Park after four attempts.
The loss was compounded by skipper Simon Mannering being put on report for a high tackle on Kiwis teammate Jason Nightingale.
There was also the disappointing sight of substitute Ben Henry, who was coming back from a knee injury, limping off near the end.
The remnants of Cyclone Lusi meant a strong breeze swept down the ground and both sides bombed away when they had advantage of it.
The Dragons’ first lofted kick after halftime produced instant reward, with Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins unable to regather and opposite number Adam Quinlan picking up the scraps to score.
From the kick-off, the Dragons were over again, with centre Gerard Beale dotting down courtesy of a clever kick ahead by classy five-eighth Widdop.
With Widdop converting both tries the visitors had quickly turned a 12-6 half-time deficit into an 18-12 lead.
In an entertaining contest, both sides came close before Morris’ runaway effort.
In the first half, the Warriors made a fast start, with prop Ben Matulino leading the way with some big runs and offloads.
Their dominance brought dividends in the fourth minute, as Tomkins got his first NRL try.
But the Dragons, added by Warriors indiscipline that led to a series of penalties, responded when Mitch Rein scored from a dummy-half dab.
The visitors showed good structure in their attack, but it was the Warriors who struck next through centre Jerome Ropati.
A Shaun Johnson penalty late in the half extended the Warriors’ margin to six points.