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St George Illawarra Dragons too good for Melbourne Storm as Dugan fights off injury scares

Dragons 24 Storm 12

Injury scare: Josh Dugan looked to be in trouble after taking a couple of knocks in the first half.

Injury scare: Josh Dugan looked to be in trouble after taking a couple of knocks in the first half. Photo: Getty Images

Josh Dugan overcame leg and finger injuries to help St George Illawarra to a victory over Melbourne at WIN Stadium that can only have enhanced the prospects of caretaker coach Paul McGregor being given the job on a permanent basis.

With star playmaker Benji Marshall turning in his best performance since joining the club six weeks ago, the Dragons outclassed the Storm to pile on five tries to one in a 24-12 win that has them now just two points outside the top eight.

Bryan Norrie of the Storm goes into contact.

Bryan Norrie of the Storm goes into contact. Photo: Getty Images

Time
80.00
Team
STG
Score
24
Team
MEL
Score
12
St George Illawarra versus Melbourne
View Match Statistics
Players Dugan, Widdop, Rein, Nightingale, Runciman Tries 5 Tries 2 Players Slater, Mann
Players Widdop 2/5 (40%) Conversions 2 Conversions 2 Players Smith 2/2 (100%)
Players Penalty goals 0 Penalty goals 0 Players
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 0 Players

While Wayne Bennett has been linked with a return to St George Illawarra and Fairfax Media reported on Sunday night that Tim Sheens was also a contender, McGregor must now be under strong consideration for the job after guiding his team to a comprehensive victory over a Melbourne side whose coach Craig Bellamy is believed to be the Dragons No.1 target if he was willing to leave the Storm.

Since taking over the coaching role from his close friend Steve Price, McGregor has overseen three wins from five matches and made notable changes to both personnel and the team's style that have resulted in improvements in both attack and defence.

One of the key changes has been the decision to move Dugan from fullback to right centre and he scored a try and laid on another for winger Jason Nightingale in a performance that highlighted why NSW coach Laurie Daley will again name him on Tuesday as the man to mark Greg Inglis in Origin III at Suncorp Stadium.

Charly Runciman of the Dragons feels the impact of the Storm defence.

Charly Runciman of the Dragons feels the impact of the Storm defence. Photo: Getty Images

Dugan's feats were even more remarkable after suffering an ankle injury in a tackle by Blues team-mate Ryan Hoffman just before halftime and then injuring his finger in the second half.

Remarkably, Dugan had the finger attended to by St George Illawarra medical staff and immediately chimed into the Dragons backline to make a break before putting Nightingale over with a flick pass that resulted in him needing treatment again immediately afterwards.

Earlier, he had got the Dragons off to the best possible start by running over the top of Slater to cross in the sixth minute after a Benji Marshall kick had forced a repeat set.

Tohu Harris attempts to break a tackle.

Tohu Harris attempts to break a tackle. Photo: Getty Images

English five-eighth Gareth Widdop then put the home side further ahead against his former side when he chipped ahead and received the perfect bounce to regather and score his first try for St George Illawarra in the 15th minute.

Slater reduced the Dragons lead to 10-6 when he backed up a Will Chambers break to cross out wide in the 27th minute and the scores remained that way until halftime.

Another Marshall kick, this time a grubber, led to St George Illawarra's next try after the ball ricocheted off the leg of Storm halfback Ben Roberts and hooker Mitch Rein collected it to cross untouched in the 53rd minute to restore the Dragons 10 point lead.

Nightingale sealed the win when he finished a sweeping movement from the left side of the field to the right that culminated with Dugan busting through the attempted tackle of Kurt Mann and Mahe Fonua before flicking the ball to the New Zealand international.

Rookie Charly Runciman finished the scoring for St George Illawarra when he latched onto a long ball from Widdop that gave him a clear run at the try line to score in the 70th minute.  

8 comments so far

  • Great win dragons. McGregor has really turned it around and has the lads playing as a team and taking pride in the Red V.

    Commenter
    daffy
    Date and time
    June 30, 2014, 10:50PM
    • Yes it was a great win and good Monday night crowd of over 10000 in the cold. But what worries me is that we score 5 tries and only 2 goal. Mary - find a kicking coach for Widdop - we can not rely on a less than 60% kicker. If we miss the finals on fore & against the poor kicking could be a contributor.
      What is clear is the Melbourne, like Qld in SofO Game 2, really miss Cronk - him not there tonight was one of the deciding factors. Slater did a lot more in attack organisation tonight.
      Great that the time keepers did their jobs also!!

      Commenter
      saint mike II
      Location
      Kiama Downs
      Date and time
      June 30, 2014, 11:54PM
      • Charly Runciman is a star of the future. He is everything a footballer should be, big strong and fast. I would actually return Beale to FB move Runciman in to the centres and boy is that a strong backline. I also agree we need a better kicker. Marshall would be my pick. On Marshall I am so glad he is playing well, a very nice bloke.

        Commenter
        Chris
        Date and time
        July 01, 2014, 9:16AM
        • Good suggestion. However, it does raise one question. What do you do with Quinlan?

          Commenter
          TommyP
          Date and time
          July 01, 2014, 6:25PM
      • With 3 minutes left in the game, Melbourne score to cut the lead to 600 and Warren Smith thought the game was still alive. In all my years of watching rugby league, I don’t think I have ever seen a more unashamedly biased commentator. That aside, what are Melbourne paying to miss the top 8? Might be an interesting wager.

        Commenter
        Charge Forward
        Location
        Square Leg
        Date and time
        July 01, 2014, 10:15AM
        • As for McGregor's coaching ~ HAIL MARY

          Dragons haven't played with such confident disciplined structure since Wayne Bennett coached.
          @ saint mike II ~ it might be getting near time for Benji to have a few goal shots

          Commenter
          Bazzio101
          Location
          Mt Colah
          Date and time
          July 01, 2014, 11:35AM
          • It was windy as hell so Widdop has some excuse.Benji is a good but not great goal kicker but maybe best let him concentrate on adapting to his place in team with Widdop they gona make a real potent halfs combo.

            Commenter
            Jacko
            Location
            Warriorville
            Date and time
            July 01, 2014, 4:30PM
        • Finally, a great win against a quality opposition. With the Dragons middle now showing some backbone in defence it makes you wonder how demoralised the players must have been under Steve Price. However, the Dragons can't continue to miss all of those goal shots.

          Commenter
          Albert Ross
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          July 01, 2014, 1:04PM

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