Dragons ground Jets to book preliminary final spot

Dragons' Adam Clune. Photo: BLAKE EDWARDS
Dragons' Adam Clune. Photo: BLAKE EDWARDS

THE St George Illawarra Dragons Intrust Super Premiership NSW side, featuring Group Seven products Reuben Garrick (Gerringong), Jai Field (Shellharbour), Adam Clune (Albion Park-Oak Flats) and Jackson Ford (Gerringong), have secured a spot in the preliminary final, after stealing a 28-26 victory over fierce rivals the Newtown Jets at Panthers Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

The Dragons were slow out of the blocks, with the Jets taking full advantage early snagging a try within the first five minutes courtesy of winger Matt Evans, with son of Cronulla-Sutherland NRL coach Shane Flanagan, Kyle, making no mistake with the goal. 

The Red V were swift to respond through their flanker Shaun Sauni-Esau to level the scores early in the piece, after receiving a well executed long ball from five-eighth Jai Field. 

The Jets produced back-to-back four pointers courtesy of Briton Nikora and Evans, to give the Bluebaggers a handy 10 point deficit mid way through the first forty. 

Dragons' coach Mat Head turned to his interchange bench, injecting Adam Clune into the game, which proved a masterstroke, with the Group Seven product laying on tries to Lions Reuben Garrick, as well as sending Sauni-Esau over the stripe for a first half double, to lock the scores at 16 points a piece at the break.

A Darren Nicholls penalty goal soon after the intermission, gave the red and whites the lead for the first time in the contest. 

As the Jets had done in the first half, they found themselves in front again with two quick tries to Reuben Rennie and Will Kennedy.

Rennie's good work was quickly undone after dropping a Nicholls spiral bomb, inviting the Dragons back into the contest. 

Accepting the invitation immediately, Clune scored a neat individual try, getting his team within two points, with five minutes to play.

Showing great match awareness, Nicholls found out Jets' Rennie again, with the centre dropping the ball metres away from the Dragons' try line, before the inform Pat Herbert collected the Steeden, planting it down for the match-winner. 

The 28-26 victory means the Dragons will now enjoy a well earned weekend off, advancing into the grand final qualifier to be played at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, September 16. 

This story Dragons ground Jets to book preliminary final spot first appeared on South Coast Register.