St George too good for Wolves

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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St George Illawarra drew first blood in the new World Club Series by grinding out an 18-12 win over Warrington in an action-packed clash in front of a 13,080 crowd at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It was a full-blooded encounter in which the NRL club incurred the wrath of the partisan crowd with two ugly high tackles that might well have produced red cards in Super League.

The Wolves battled throughout without being anywhere near their best but had no real answer to the craft of the Dragons’ Anglo-Kiwi half-back pairing of Widdop and Benji Marshall.

The Wolves were dealt a blow before kick-off when England utility man Stefan Ratchford was ruled out with a shoulder injury but Kevin Penny proved a superb replacement at full-back and Gary Wheeler slotted in at centre for his full debut.

The visitors made the best possible start, making the most of an early knock-on by former player Ashton Sims as Wales international second rower Tyson Frizell took a short pass from Marshall to go in for the first try with just 80 seconds on the clock.

Widdop added the goal to make it 6-0 but Warrington’s response was impressive and the Dragons were indebted to debutant winger Eto Nabuli for a trysaving tackle on home skipper Joel Monaghan.

Second rower James Laithwaite was then held up over the line before O’Brien brought Warrington level after dummying his way past Marshall and full-back Josh Dugan to score a superb solo try, to which he added the goal.

The kicking game of Widdop and Marshall always threatened to cause problems for Warrington’s defence and, when Monaghan failed to clear the former’s grubber on the last tackle, second rower Joel Thompson pounced to score a second try and regain the lead.

Referee Ben Thaler seemed determined to let the game flow but he was forced to blow up for a horrible-looking tackle by Nabuli on Penny and Warrington took advantage of the first penalty of the match to score their second try on 29 minutes, centre Ryan Atkins taking Wheeler’s pass to cross at the corner.

Warrington also had a claim for a penalty try ruled out as they trailed 12-10 at the break and they almost fell further behind early in the second half when Dugan breached their line only to be held up on his back.

A string of errors forced the Wolves onto the defensive for much of the third quarter but some robust work from forwards Ben Westwood and Chris Hill rallied their side and they drew level with a penalty from O’Brien on 58 minutes.

That followed another ugly high shot, this time by Marshall on O’Brien, and the penalties began to pile up as the Australian side’s discipline started to let them down.

However, just as Warrington appeared to be getting on top, they crucially conceded a try against the run of play.

Hooker Mitch Rein split them down the middle and, after Daryl Clark was only able to parry Marshall’s kick, Dugan was on hand to gather the ball and touch down for the Dragons’ third try.

Widdop kicked his third goal to wrap up the scoring, although Monaghan had a late chance to earn a possible share of the spoils before spilling a difficult pass from Chris Bridge.

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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