The Illawarra Lions suffered a tough three-point loss away to St George in the opening round of the Sydney AFL First Division competition on Saturday.
The Lions withdrew from the elite Premier division to join the second-tier First Division and had hoped to give new player-coach Dave Nolen a win in his first competition game.
Barely two goals separated the teams all day. The Lions led by 11 points at quarter-time and the same margin at the half.
St George stormed back with a three goals-to-one in the third term to lead by a point at the final change.
Both teams kicked two goals in a frenetic fourth quarter but the Dragons held on for victory.
William Cook booted two goals for the Lions as did Ben Hyndes. Dylan Koop, Jack Nugent, Stewart Boyd and Chris Cook were outstanding.
Illawarra are at home to the UNSW/Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs in round two at North Dalton Park this Saturday. The Bulldogs were thrashed by 43 points by UTS Bats in round one.
First bounce is 6pm.