Brett Morris scored his 100th career try as St George Illawarra secured a hat-trick of wins to start the NRL season with a 14-12 victory over Cronulla.
In windy conditions at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night before 14,821 fans, Morris scored a double, his gravity-defying second four-pointer capping the Dragons’ impressive start to the year and consigning the Sharks to a 0-3 beginning to 2014.
Morris joined Nathan Blacklock (100) and Matt Cooper (124) as the third player to top the century of tries for the joint venture when he crossed after sustained early pressure on the Sharks line in the fifth minute.
Sharks hooker John Morris struck back in the 13th minute and the Michael Gordon conversion put the home side ahead 6-4.
The Dragons secured control of the contest from then on through their forwards with halfback Sam Williams proving to be a good foil in attack for his halves partner Gareth Widdop.
Jason Nightingale put the Dragons ahead in the 28th minute when he climbed above Sosaia Feki to latch onto a Williams kick. Widdop hit the posts for the second conversion in a row for a 8-6 lead.
Brett Morris scored his second in a high-flying effort in the 40th minute when he caught a Widdop kick in the northeastern corner.
Similar to Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma’s spectacular leap of last year, Morris ground the ball with one hand while still in the air, all the while under pressure from the Sharks defence.
Widdop landed the conversion and the Dragons led 14-6 at halftime.
The Dragons failed to score a point in the second stanza, the match becoming a dour struggle as the Sharks failed to take full advantage of a strong southerly wind at their backs.
John Morris scored a double himself when he forced his way over in the 69th minute.
Michael Gordon’s conversion narrowed the score but in a error-ridden but exciting final 10 minutes, the home side couldn’t do enough to score their first win of the season.