Another Dolphin goes down in big loss to Dragons

George Clarke |

Wayne Bennett is unsure how long the Dolphins will be without star hooker Jeremy Marshall-King after his injury compounded a 26-6 loss to St George Illawarra.

Marshall-King limped off in the first half at Kogarah Oval on Sunday after awkwardly catching his foot under a Jack de Belin tackle.

While workaholic lock Max Plath did a solid job deputising, Marshall-King’s form and fitness will be vital to the Dolphins’ hopes of hanging onto a spot in the top eight.

The second-year club’s top-four prospects are slipping by the week, falling to sixth with the Dragons defeat, which leaves Bennett’s side with just one win in their last five outings.

“It’s a foot problem but we don’t know what’s happened, it’s there at the front of the foot,” Bennett said.

“He’ll get some scans… Max Plath is playing very well and he’s a wonderful young player and his size, he does a great job.

“Our mistakes (are costing us), they had 26 sets to our 13 and nine penalties to our three.

“You can’t play in the NRL with that type of mistake rate, the first half we were in the game and the second half, well, it all went against us.”

The Dolphins began encouragingly, cancelling out a 35th minute Kyle Flanagan penalty goal when Tesi Niu went in to claim a 6-2 halftime lead in front of 8,052.

Marshall-King’s absence began to tell and the Dragons quickly hit top gear, beating the Dolphins through the middle and then burning them on the edges.

Raymond Faitaala-Mariner, Christian Tuipulotu and Tyrell Sloan scored in the 20 minutes after halftime to open up a buffer from which the Dolphins didn’t recover.

Christian Tuipulotu.
The Dragons have proved too strong after the break for the Dolphins in Sydney. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

De Belin and hooker Jacob Liddle extended the home side’s lead but they showed no sign of putting the cue in the rack, Moses Suli racing back to jolt the ball loose as Herbie Farnworth looked destined to score late.

“You can look at the scoreboard and not react but that’s the team we want to be, we want to scramble and save tries,” said Dragons coach Shane Flanagan.

Flanagan’s side moved into the top eight with the victory and the Red V coach is already eyeing off next weekend’s fixture with the Sydney Roosters.

The Dragons were hammered 60-18 when they last faced the Roosters on Anzac Day and the coach is already stressing the need to give a better account of themselves.

“My word – and it’s already been mentioned in the sheds – is redemption,” Flanagan said.

“We got off to a really good start, 20 minutes in we scored the first try and we were up for it and then their halfback kicked us off the park.

“After today’s result I think it’s a good place for us to be, let’s go and see how we go against a top-four side in the Roosters, we’ll know where we’re at.”

Flanagan expects Zac Lomax to return against the Roosters but there is some doubt over Mat Feagai who picked up a shoulder injury in Sunday’s win.