Sport Rugby League Dragons thump Sharks to move to the top

Dragons thump Sharks to move to the top

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St George Illawarra have jumped to the top of the NRL ladder with a 42-6 dismantling of Cronulla at Jubilee Oval on Sunday.

The Dragons racked up their biggest win of the season after running in six tries to one against a listless Sharks side which shot itself in the foot repeatedly.

Paul McGregor’s side went into the game having scored the fewest tries in the NRL, despite being entrenched in the top four.

However in front of 18,011 fans they showed they possessed plenty of spark in attack.

The Sharks were terrible in patches, committing fundamental errors including kicking dead from the kick-off twice, Ben Barba throwing a wild pass on his own goal line and Michael Ennis giving away a penalty after failing to make 10 metres from the drop out.

Cronulla managed one try, however even it should not have been awarded.

After a Gareth Widdop penalty got the Dragons off to a 2-0 lead, the Sharks hit back through Valentine Holmes but replays showed he failed to ground the ball after chasing down a Jack Bird grubber.

On-field referee Adam Devcich had no hesitation in pointing to the spot however he should have referred it to the video referees after Holmes failed to apply downward pressure.

The Dragons went into halftime with a 14-6 lead after Josh Dugan and Mitch Rein crossed.

Rein darted out of dummy half to score, showing why he was being considered for a NSW jumper should Blues hooker Robbie Farah not recover in time for State of Origin II.

It was all one-way traffic in the second half as the Dragons’ halves of Widdop and Benji Marshall grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with the home side running in tries to Will Matthews, Jack de Belin, Peter Mata’utia and Eto Nabuli.

Elsewhere, the Warriors have beaten an injury-hit Newcastle 24-20 in Auckland to maintain their momentum with their third victory in a row.

However, it was another close-run thing for the Warriors, whose last five matches have now been decided by four points or fewer.

Newcastle winger Akuila Uate’s second try, when he powered over from dummy half with five minutes to go, was converted to make for a grandstand finish.

But the Warriors were able to hold out to prevent Newcastle from doing the double over them this season.

The Knights made three late changes to their starting 13, with skipper Kurt Gidley (thigh), prop Kade Snowden (neck) and lock Jeremy Smith (sternum) ruled out.

They were down to a three-man bench within five minutes after halfback Tyrone Roberts limped off with an ankle injury.

The Warriors struck immediately in front of a crowd of 13,203 with a Shaun Johnson break ending with centre Tuimoala Lolohea scoring.

When winger Manu Vatuvei climbed above Uate to dot down, the home side were out to a 10-0 lead and looking comfortable.

However, after a Warriors mistake deep in their own territory, Knights fullback Dane Gagai scored from the ensuing scrum, his speed putting him into a hole.

Newcastle thought they had made it a quick double, but winger James McManus was called back after an 80-metre run for an earlier Knights tackle that got them the ball.

Instead, prop Ben Matulino crashed over to extend the Warriors’ lead, before Uate got one back on Vatuvei by scoring in his marker’s tackle.

With the home side up 14-8 at halftime, centre Solomone Kata gave them some breathing space when he busted the line to grab his ninth try of his debut season.

The Knights, who had lost six of their previous seven matches, refused to go away and McManus did get his try to close the gap.

But the Warriors struck back with 12 minutes to go, a Bodene Thompson bust and Johnson kick into the in-goal finished off by winger Jonathan Wright.

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