Sloan set for No.1 as Dragons humble Tigers in trial

Scott Bailey |

Tyrell Sloan (R) has had an impressing outing in the Dragons 16-point NRL trial win over the Tigers.
Tyrell Sloan (R) has had an impressing outing in the Dragons 16-point NRL trial win over the Tigers.

Tyrell Sloan appears to have locked in St George Illawarra’s No.1 jersey, after the Dragons handed Wests Tigers a pre-season reality check with a 34-12 defeat in Mudgee.

Sloan starred with the ball for the Dragons on Saturday night as they ran riot late in the first half, with a suspected hamstring injury to Justin Olam adding to the Tigers woes.

Tigers five-eighth Jayden Sullivan also faces a nervy wait on the charge sheet, after being placed on report for late contact on a kicking Kyle Flanagan.

After beating an undermanned Warriors last week, the Tigers were poor in defence and couldn’t make use of plenty of good ball against the Dragons.

Jahream Bula.
Fullback Jahream Bula scored one try against the Dragons on a poor night for the Tigers in Mudgee. (David Hossack/AAP PHOTOS)

That in itself will shine questions on whether Aidan Sezer and Sullivan remain the first-choice halves, with youngster Lachlan Galvin showing potential.

New coach Benji Marshall now has three weeks to think over the issues, with the back-to-back year’s wooden-spooners on the bye in round one before facing Canberra on March 16.

After only finishing one spot above the Tigers last year, the Dragons look a more settled and fitter side under Shane Flanagan.

They were also able to hold out several sets on their own line with a physical defence, and showed an ability to score points against a poor Tigers outfit.

Sloan spent the entire match at the back, with Flanagan resisting the urge to rotate he and Zac Lomax between fullback and wing.

There remain questions over Sloan’s defence, after he was stepped once by Jahream Bula for the Tigers’ first try, and beaten by Heath Mason for another late.

But the 21-year-old remains a weapon in attack.

He made a 60-metre bust on a kick return in the lead up to the Dragons’ first try through Ben Hunt, and provided nice lead-up play before Hunt crossed again later to make it 24-0.

The fullback then scored himself in the second half, hitting a hole close to the line off the back of Hunt and Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Jaydn Su’A looked dangerous in the second row, running across field to target defenders and making a bust down field before a Lomax try.

Moses Suli was also strong at left centre, forcing his way over for a first-half try and moments later putting on a powerful run before Mikaele Ravalawa went over.

The only concern for the Dragons was a hamstring issue for Jacob Liddle, while Blake Lawrie finished early with rib soreness that is not expected to be serious.

Earlier, Brisbane went to the top of the NRL’s pre-season challenge ladder by beating Manly 40-14.

Both sides were without their first-choice NRL players, who are already in Las Vegas ahead of next weekend’s season opener.