St George Illawarra 38 New Zealand Warriors 6
A fond farewell ... Ben Hornby and Dean Young leave WIN Stadium on a high. Photo: David Tease
AN ILLNESS-RAVAGED St George Illawarra side farewelled favourite sons Ben Hornby and Dean Young in style, belting the Warriors at WIN Stadium last night.
Just 11,261 fans turned out to see a Warriors side crash to their sixth consecutive loss in a game which doubled as Tony Iro's first as head coach since the club farewelled Brian McClennan during the week.
Dragons fans will be left wondering why it took 25 rounds before their side showed the attacking free will which they had spoken about before a ball had been kicked this season.
A flamboyant Dragons side - led by five-eighth Jamie Soward - piled on 38 points for the first time this year as a bout of gastroenteritis threatened to ruin their final home match.
Winger Daniel Vidot withdrew minutes before kick-off and hooker Mitch Rein succumbed to the illness 20 minutes into the match.
The Dragons finished the match with just a 15-man rotation after a concussion to Will Matthews forced him from the field in the second half.
Soward kicked, passed and directed the home team to victory.
The Dragons scored first through a pin-point cross-field kick from Soward, with Matthews leaping to score in the 14th minute.
Soward's opposite, James Maloney, laid on the only Warriors try when Shaun Johnson pounced on a bat-behind from Manu Vatuvei via Maloney's boot to have the sides level at 6-6. That try sparked an unhappy 10-minute period for Johnson whose missed tackle led to Dragons winger Chase Stanley racing 35 metres to hand his side the lead seven minutes later.
A poke to his eye forced Johnson from the field two minutes before half-time, with the Dragons leading 12-6. It took less than 10 minutes after the break for the Dragons to extend their lead with Soward's boot again laying the platform for fullback Jason Nightingale to pluck a bomb from the Warriors' grasp to score.
The Warriors, once associated with being a care-free attacking force, were outgunned by a St George Illawarra side more than happy to chance its arm with second-phase play.
The away side's second-half woes continued when Nightingale crossed for his second try following a nice pass from teammate Ben Creagh less than two minutes later.
A handling error by Warriors prop Russell Packer with his team deep on the attack blew another good chance and the Dragons made them pay.
From the scrum a cut-out pass to a flying Brett Morris from Soward saw the winger race 50 metres with only an ankle tap from Warriors fullback Carlos Tuimavave halting the movement.
But moments later the Dragons struck again, with a Trent Merrin pass gifting Josh Miller a try.
A carefree St George Illawarra side continued to pile on the points with Creagh adding a four-pointer to have the Dragons in front 34-6.
A Matt Cooper try in the final minute of the game handed the Dragons a crushing 32-point win.
The loss leaves the Warriors winless at WIN Stadium in their nine games at the ground and gave Iro a tough initiation into life as a first-grade coach.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 38 (J Nightingale 2 M Cooper B Creagh W Matthews J Miller C Stanley tries J Soward 5 goals) bt WARRIORS 6 (S Johnson try J Maloney goal) at WIN Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Adam Gee. Crowd: 11,261.