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Dragons end Warriors' NRL finals hopes

St George Illawarra have extinguished the Warriors' flickering NRL finals hopes with a 19-10 victory in an underwhelming clash at WIN Stadium on Saturday.
Dragons end Warriors' NRL finals hopes
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

WOLLONGONG, NSW, Sept 7 AAP - St George Illawarra have extinguished the Warriors' flickering NRL finals hopes with a 19-10 victory in an underwhelming clash at WIN Stadium on Saturday.

The win ended a run of six successive defeats for the Dragons who can now focus on next year when a host of new signings will look to rebuild the club after the worst season in the joint-venture's history.

But it'll be a soul-searching journey back across the Tasman for the Warriors who needed to beat a Dragons side playing for nothing more than pride in front of a crowd of 9,022.

The Warriors have now lost 10 consecutive matches at WIN Stadium.

Matt Elliott's side have failed to find any consistency all season and this proved to be their undoing in Wollongong where they lacked the intensity to put any real pressure on a side that lost to wooden spooners Parramatta last week.

The scores were locked up at 10-10 after 72 minutes but the home side ran away with the win.

A field goal from Josh Drinkwater, a Chase Stanley penalty and a first NRL try for young centre Charly Runciman proved to be the difference between the sides with the Dragons deserving the two points following a encouraging second-half performance.

Warriors backrower Elijah Taylor opened the scoring after 18 minutes when he touched down after Shaun Johnson's high kick bounced off Manu Vatuvei's shoulder and into his path.

With neither side showing any real attacking verve in a sterile opening stanza it was something of a surprise when the Dragons did cross the line - and it was a rare moment of quality that saw them level the scores.

Nathan Fien, in his final game before retirement, made a break and found Brett Morris who played in Adam Quinlan who darted over from 20 metres.

Chase Stanley added the extras to give the hosts a 6-4 lead at the break and three minutes after the restart Nathan Green reacted quickest to haul in a Fien bomb to make it 10-4.

The Warriors did crank up the pressure midway through the second half as they realised their season was in real danger of petering out, but the home side showed great determination to keep them at bay.

Vatuvei did finally cross in the 64th minute with Johnson's kick levelling the scores, but the expected onslaught never materialised.

Kevin Locke went close with a field goal, but from the next set the Dragons marched downfield and Drinkwater bisected the posts eight minutes from time.

Stanley sealed the win with a penalty in front of the posts before Runciman broke his duck with a try from the final play of the game to keep the Dragons' unbeaten record against the Warriors in Wollongong.


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