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Benji Marshall stars in Dragons victory over under-strength Sharks

Dragons 30 Sharks 0

Winning form: Benji Marshall and the Dragons faced few problems against the depleted Sharks.

Winning form: Benji Marshall and the Dragons faced few problems against the depleted Sharks. Photo: Getty Images

A return to Benji Marshall’s attacking brilliance may be the catalyst for Josh Dugan’s recall into the NSW line up after the pair combined to help lead St George Illawarra to an impressive 30-0 win against Cronulla on Saturday night.

Dugan scored three tries at centre with Marshall laying all three on.

Josh Dugan on the rampage.

Josh Dugan on the rampage. Photo: Christopher Chan

Time
80.00
Team
STG
Score
30
Team
CRO
Score
0
St George Illawarra versus Cronulla
View Match Statistics
Players Mata'utia, Dugan(3), Beale(2) Tries 6 Tries 0 Players
Players Widdop 3/6 (50%) Conversions 3 Conversions 0 Players
Players Penalty goals 0 Penalty goals 0 Players
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 0 Players

In just his second game since switching from fullback, Dugan did more than enough to impress NSW coach Laurie Daley and put his hand up to play in either the vacant wing or centre spots for the Blues.

The might of the Maroons would be a tougher task for Dugan, but he could provide the Blues with another attacking weapon. While Dugan’s form would’ve brought a smile to Daley’s face, it was the performance of Marshall which set the tone for St George Illawarra in front of 12,079 people at WIN Stadium.

In his third game for the club since returning from rugby union, Marshall was back to his fleet-footed attacking best, running freely to have a hand in five of St George Illawarra’s six tries and securing a line drop out against a hapless Cronulla side.  The side-step, jink and no look passes all returned.

To add further despair to a Cronulla side missing 13 genuine first graders including Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita and Todd Carney, it was Marshall who rejected them before opting to make his comeback to the NRL with the Dragons. .

By half-time the Dragons had scored more points than they had in their past 240 minutes of first grade. It was also the first time they had held a team scoreless since round 8, 2011, to give Paul McGregor his first win as a head coach.

The match couldn’t have started any worse for Cronulla, spilling their opening two touches with Daniel Holdsworth dropping the ball from the kick-off. Debutant Jacob Gagan also lost his first touch in the NRL, when he fumbled a contested bomb.

St George Illawarra took advantage of Cronulla’s early woes, with Peter Mata’utia scoring in the 14th minute. He capitalised on Marshall changing direction when he ran on the last tackle to open up some space for Adam Quinlan, who threw a classy cut-out pass for Mata’utia to score.

Marshall would again feature, laying on Dugan’s first try after he charged onto a ball with an angled run after 22 minutes. The two would combine 11 minutes later, with Marshall throwing a trademark no-look pass to hit the lead runner in Dugan, who proved too strong to stop to extend St George Illawarra’s lead to 14.

Marshall and the Dragons weren’t done with yet. While the No.7 spent the bulk of the first half camped on the right hand side, he produced points on the left. Marshall dummied and then threw a long pass which created space for Gerard Beale to score off a bouncing Gareth Widdop pass to give the Dragons an 18-0 half-time lead.

The Dragons took time to warm into the second half, before Marshall and Dugan again joined forces. While Marshall’s feet may have dazzled the Cronulla defence in the first half, it was his boot which laid on Dugan’s try, who was able to climb above the Cronulla defence to snatch a cross-field bomb to extend the Dragons lead midway through the second half. Beale scored his second when Widdop regathered his own grubber before passing to the centre to close out the match for the home side.  

The last-placed Sharks will have a host of their stars back after next week’s bye while an in-form Jamie Soward awaits St George Illawarra on Saturday. 

16 comments so far

  • Good to see Benji have his one good game for the year against a second grade side. If Dugan makes origin on this, you have to look at the quality of opposition that hecwas tested in today before any rash decisions are made.He had a habit of going missing when things got tough while at Canberra.

    Commenter
    Glenn Jones
    Date and time
    June 07, 2014, 10:15PM
    • Well said.

      To think Benji even harboured aspirations to being an All Black.

      Commenter
      Foghorn Leghorn.
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 12:23AM
    • Lol why so negative if Marshall puts in the hard work and the dragons forwards play hard he'll be good relax.

      Commenter
      don
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 7:08AM
    • And second grade is being polite. The worst Sharks side to pull on a jersey in the last fifteen years would be more accurate description.

      Commenter
      Undo Cando
      Location
      Here, always here
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 8:06AM
    • Yes, all Dugan did was latch on to a flat pass and crash over 3 times against a NSW Cup side. Apart from that he was ordinary.

      Commenter
      Muzza
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 10:12AM
    • This shows what the Dragons backline is capable of when they are given the time to do their thing. Unfortunately, pretty much every other side in the competition will roll past the Dragons' forward pack and apply enough pressure on the backs to stop this from happening again. If the forwards can find a way to give the backs more space, things can be very different for the Red-V but, sadly, I can't see how that can happen with the current playing roster.

      Commenter
      MotorMouth
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 11:10AM
  • It's wonderful that Marshall is back ! How lucky we are to see him starring again - I was worried that he wouldn't get out of the rut which he's been in but tonight he was sparkling. So many rugby league watchers are fond of him because of the playfulness he brings to each match and that suspenseful feeling one gets that his next trick might either fail or spectacularly succeed. We're with you Benji !!

    Commenter
    Blossom
    Date and time
    June 08, 2014, 1:28AM
    • Josh Dugan should be installed as Caretaker Captain-Coach of the mighty Dragons til years end.

      Commenter
      Red-V Fanatic
      Date and time
      June 08, 2014, 1:43AM
      • Flogging the Sharks ATM is not a reason to get excited about Benji yet or to think seriously about Dugan for Origin.

        Commenter
        Seano
        Date and time
        June 08, 2014, 7:16AM
        • Loz has established the culture. Dugan is a huge risk to it. Dylan Walker is my pick.

          Commenter
          Mikeyboy
          Date and time
          June 08, 2014, 7:53AM

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