The St George Dragons’ left edge scrum offence was too good for the ball movement of the Eels offence, with the final score 16-10 at CommBank Stadium meaning that the Dragons stay undefeated to start the season.
The first fourteen minutes saw a lot of back-and-forth set for set action, with the Eels having a couple of strong good sets breaking through the Dragons’ defensive line and almost scoring in those opportunities.
After a controversial call on an Eels pass near their try line, the Dragons scored first in the 16th minute with a scrum play. This saw Emma Tonegato throw a short-ball to Keele Brown, targeting Christian Pio on the Eels left edge.
Four minutes later, with Kennedy Cherrington conceding a penalty for holding down too long, the Dragons made their way down the Eels half. Tonegato added another try assist which resulted in a Page McGregor try, confusing Eels centre Rikeya Horne as the Dragons moved towards their right edge.
In the 25th minute after a holding down penalty conceded by the Dragons, the Eels ran a play on their 50 metre line, moving the ball from right to left, with fullback Gayle Broughton putting a short ball to Tiana Penitani for a try as she was able to break through the line.
With the Eels forcing a handover in their half, the Eels made their way up the field, with great ball movement on their 50-metre line for a set play. Broughton drew in Brown to throw a short ball to Penitani to break through the line and ran 40 metres before throwing the ball back inside to Broughton for her first try in the NRLW under the posts to take the lead five minutes before half-time.
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The Eels kicking game and ball movement was essential in their high quality first half performance, with five-eighth Tayla Preston kicking early in sets for field position and low arching kicks for distance.
The Eels’ defence has been a standout, with their line speed and wanting to be in the Dragons’ face every time they have the ball, especially when they finish their sets with their kicks. They have been finishing their sets in better positions and completing sets in exemplary fashion, which was an aspect of the game they struggled in their loss to the Roosters in the previous round.
The Dragons had multiple players come off with HIAs and injuries, depleting their depth for stretches of time as well as this the Dragons’ cheap errors and penalties conceded allowed the Eels to make their way up the field and utilise space.
After a lot of set-for-set action to start the second half, the Dragons were able to take back the lead with a scrum play to the left edge, putting winger Teagan Berry over the line for another four points in the 50th minute after Ellie Johnston mishandled a kick from the Dragons dummy-half Keeley Davis.
A few minutes later, Eels debutant Zali Fay loses control of her catch of Rachael Pearson’s kick, which led to the Dragons scoring on the last tackle post their scrum play to almost put Berry over the line again, with McGregor scoring her second try for the game on the left edge, making the game 16-10 with just less than 10 minutes to go.
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