Dragons capitalise on Manly horror show to claim win

Scott Bailey |

Tyrell Sloan has scored two tries to help the Dragons to a 20-12 NRL victory over Manly.
Tyrell Sloan has scored two tries to help the Dragons to a 20-12 NRL victory over Manly.

Manly’s bad WIN Stadium juju has come back to haunt them, putting in an attacking horror show as St George Illawarra claimed a 20-12 victory. 

In a dour Easter Saturday NRL clash in Wollongong, Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan provided some of the few highlights with a silky double.

The win marked the Dragons’ first victory since round one, with Sloan scoring either side of halftime with his speed and skill to ensure a 20-6 lead.

Manly threatened a brief fightback late following a Haumole Olakau’atu try, but fittingly any hope of that was ended when Lachlan Croker spilled the ball.

The Sea Eagles have now won only one of their past 10 matches in Wollongong dating back to 2005, and appeared struck down by the venue again on Saturday.

They completed only 10 sets in the first half and made another eight errors after the break.

Tom Trbojevic in particular had a shocker, setting up the first try of the night but making a total of four errors.

Balls were fumbled out of dummy-half, the Steeden regularly hit the ground, and the two teams averaged an error once every two and a half minutes.

“I really don’t pay too much attention to the hoodoo stuff,” Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans said. 

“I’ve never gone into a game thinking I’m going to lose, let alone because of the hoodoo. 

“We just didn’t bring our best tonight, and each season is different. Tonight we just weren’t up to it.”

St George Illawarra were at times just as error-riddled, only getting to their kick twice in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Still, there was at least some resilience in defence for the hosts.

Their right edge was much improved in defence, with Ben Hunt, Jack Bird and Zac Lomax withstanding several attacks down that side after leaking points in recent weeks.

Jack Bird (centre)
Jack Bird (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring a try for the Dragons against Manly. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

And after conceding 84 points over the past fortnight, the Dragons at one stage defended their own line for 17 straight tackles without offering a gap.

“I know we can (defend like that), but I don’t want to do it too,” coach Shane Flanagan said.

“We weren’t that great, but we showed some real resilience.

“To keep the talent in that football side to basically six for the entire game, it was a really good job.”

Ultimately, it proved the difference.

Things had looked ominous from the Dragons early when Trbojevic ran the ball out of dummy-half and provided a low offload for Tolutau Koula to score.

But the Dragons were able to hit back through Bird, when Tommy Talau couldn’t handle a cross-field kick from Ben Hunt and the St George Illawarra centre pounced.

Sloan’s try then put the Dragons ahead, sliding through Manly’s right-edge defence on the back of a ball from Kyle Flanagan.

The fullback then crossed again after the break, running on to a Hunt banana kick after a bust from Tom Eisenhuth off a Jack de Belin offload.

Then it was the Dragons’ defence that held on.

Mikaele Ravalawa tackled Jaxson Paulo into touch as the Manly winger looked set to score one try, and forced an error as the Sea Eagles flyer appeared in for another.

Olakau’atu surged his way over the line late, but Manly succumbed to their Wollongong hoodoo again as another late error finished the match.

AAP