ST GEORGE Illawarra kept their hopes of a NRLW grand final berth alive with an impressive 22-10 win over the Warriors without injured skipper Sam Bremner.
Bremner missed the match with a broken toe, with Kiwi Ferns star Honey Hireme switching to fullback and proving one of the Dragons best as they claimed their first victory.
She remains a chance to play next week and, with a grand final berth on the line, it will likely be worth the gamble for coach Daniel Lacey despite Hireme's display at the back.
The win wasn't enough to leapfrog the Warriors into second spot on for and against, but they remain in the hunt for a spot in the decider ahead of next week's clash with the win-less Roosters.
After leaking 30 points in a heavy round-one defeat, coach Daniel Lacey was most pleased with his side's defence, particularly wen reduced to 12 when young half Keeley Davis was sin-binned 12 minutes in.
"We needed to bounce back, it's a short competition and every game's vital, every point's vital,” Lacey said.
“We said after last week we could take some confidence out of the things we did well and I'm happy they believed in that and saw what I could see in them.
“You could probably write a book on all the things that were going against us at time and to keep turning up against quality opposition, who beat the favourites last week, was really good.
“It's a new competition, they have show what the expectations are and we needed to turn up in defence.
“They're a big team that powered through the middle last week and we had to match that. The fact they did that, and played off the back of it was great.
“You know if you're in good shape when you've got a team defending for each other. There were a couple of held-up try-savers and that's all them.
“It's got nothing to do with me, it's back on them for how much it means to them. They want one more win, they want to get to the big dance.”
The Dragons got off to a flyer when newly crowned Illawarra League player of the year Shakiah Tungai grabbed an intercept and raced 80 metres to score under the posts just two minutes in.
Honey Hireme, who shifted the fullback to cover for injured skipper Sam Bremner, dashed 50 metres for her side's second long-range try three minutes later off a clever offload from Hannah Southwell to extend the margin to 12-0.
Centre Jess Sergis and Southwell both produced try-saving tackles to deny the Warriors hit back at the other end, even after losing five-eighth Keeley Davis to the sin-bin.
Rikeya Horne bagged the first try of the second half, snapping up the bounce off a beautifully placed kick from Melanie Howard with Tungai nailing her third conversion for an 18-0 lead.
The margin was cut back to 12 when Raquel Anderson-Pitman scored the Warriors first try after the Dragons failed to diffuse a Sarina Clark kick with 18 minutes to play.
Sergis barged across four minutes later to re-take momentum and a 22-6 lead though Clark put an important dent in the Dragons for and against four minutes from time.