Drag­ons de­vour Sea Ea­gles de­spite huge fight­back

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

ST Ge­orge Illawarra’s fi­nals charge is back on track with a 52- 22 flog­ging of Manly, but only af­ter they re­pelled what threat­ened to be the big­gest come­back in NRL his­tory.

The Drag­ons pro­duced the best first half of any team this year to go 30- 0 up yes­ter­day, be­fore four Manly tries in the first 16 min­utes af­ter the break re­duced the mar­gin to eight at WIN Sta­dium. In­cred­i­bly, three of the Sea Ea­gles’ tries came while they were down to 12 men af­ter prop Darcy Lus­sick was sin- binned for punch­ing Drag­ons lock Jack de Belin.

The fire­brand Manly prop was also put on re­port for a pos­si­ble head­butt. But when Nene Mac­don­ald leapt high to mark a Daly Cherry- Evans kick to claim a seven- tackle set, the Drag­ons took com­plete con­trol.

“That re­ally swung the mo­men­tum and we turned it back our way,” McGre­gor said.

“If it goes the other way, they get a try there and we’re re­ally un­der the pump.”

Paul Vaughan barged over in the fol­low­ing minute, be­fore Ja­son Nightin­gale, Euan Aitken and debu­tant Matt Dufty helped the Drag­ons be­come the first team to pass 50 points this year. With­out in­jured full- back Josh Du­gan, the vic­tory kept the Saints one win ahead of ninth- placed Pen­rith but now well clear of the chas­ing pack on for- and- against.

Manly dropped to sixth, with their top- four hopes in se­ri­ous strife given Trent Bar­rett’s men face Mel­bourne and the Syd­ney Roost­ers in the next fort­night. It was also the first time the Ea­gles had con­ceded 50 since Au­gust 2005.

Paul Vaughan barged over.

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