Flanagan’s half-time spray propels Dragons to improbable comeback win as Panthers pay price for pedestrian performance


St George Illawarra rose from the dead to upset Penrith 22-10 on Saturday night and while the premiers had five players on State of Origin duty, that is no excuse as the Dragons were also without three representative stars.

Enjoying more of the ball and in more attacking positions, the home side got away to a 10-0 advantage after a sluggish opening 40 minutes in the wet at BlueBet Stadium but the tide turned soon after half-time as the Dragons came out of the sheds all guns blazing after copping a rev-up from coach Shane Flanagan.

Missing talisman Ben Hunt as well as Zac Lomax and Jaydn Su’A, St George Illawarra’s attack was meandering at best early on with multiple fifth-tackle options falling flat.

But after an unconvincing start, Jesse Marschke’s influence on the game grew and he created the Dragons’ second try scored by Tyrell Sloan.

Penrith, who were missing Dylan Edwards, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo, Jarome Luai and Brian To’o, looked to be comfortable but started to lose control of the contest as the Dragons forwards started to roll through and Marschke and Kyle Flanagan began to make creative inroads.

When Izack Tago blocked Kyle Flanagan’s path illegally with 12 minutes to go a penalty was deemed sufficient, to the Dragons’ bewilderment, as a trip to the sin-bin for the Panthers centre seemed likely but the Dragons extended their lead soon after through Mathew Feagai.

Marschke was at it again, this time assisting a Raymond Faitala-Mariner four-pointer to seal the two competition points.

The Panthers could not muster a point in the second half with their limited possession as St George Illawarra completed an impressive comeback at the foot of the mountains.

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Dragons respond in style after poor first half

Starting from the very first carry of the second half, when rookie winger Sione Finau beat multiple defenders and made 50 metres, the Dragons were a completely different team following half-time. Flanagan must have delivered a special spray as his side stormed into the lead with two tries in seven minutes.

Suddenly it was Ivan Cleary’s side showing a lack of discipline, giving away penalties and six-agains close to their line, allowing the Dragons prime attacking opportunities.

St George Illawarra’s forwards kept rolling through, offloading at will, a complete 180 of the first half as the errors just kept flowing from the other end.

The Panthers opened the scoring via a soft try to Izack Tago and the highlight of their performances was a superb finish by teenage winger Jesse McLean.

A towering bomb came down just inside the sideline but McLean latched onto it and absorbed the heavy contact of Sloan’s tackle to score a scintillating try.

The loss means Penrith missed the chance to leapfrog Melbourne and Cronulla into top spot while the Dragons have squared their season record at 6-6 to be on the fringe of the top eight.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.