Sec­ond fi­nals win for Dragons

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - Lo­gan Marsh

THE Marano’s Fuel Dou­glas United Dragons have made it back-to-back Divi­sion One Grand Fi­nal vic­to­ries with a 3-1 win over the Ma­reeba Bulls at En­deav­our Park on Fri­day night.

The match did not quite have the drama of last year’s fi­nal be­tween the two sides how­ever the spec­ta­tors were kept on the edge of their seats through­out un­til the dy­ing stages when the match was fi­nally put be­yond the reach of the Bulls.

The Dragons started the match strongly and re­mained very much on the front foot through­out the open­ing quar­ter of the match.

This early dom­i­nance was re­alised on the score­board when Adri­ano Gualtieri made a yard for him­self on the edge of the box and fired into the bot­tom cor­ner to send the trav­el­ling Dragons fans wild.

Gualtieri had a gilt edged chance to make it 2-nil mo­ments later but he glanced his header wide of the post when it seemed easier to score.

This seemed to give boost to Ma­reeba who had a pe­riod where they were on top of pro­ceed­ings.

They man­aged to force a num­ber of set pieces and from one of these that was not dealt with by the Dragons, the ball found its way into the back of the net via a Ma­reeba player’s back.

While the Dragons had been the bet­ter of the two sides through­out the open­ing ex­changes it was now the Bulls firmly on top and the Dragons were be­ing forced to hang on.

Heath Mel­ton in the Dragons goal made a vi­tal dou­ble save which kept the score locked at 1-1 and then the Dragons were handed a mas­sive boost when the Bulls skip­per re­ceived his sec­ond yel­low card for a silly foul on Dragons mid­fielder Gary Cun­ning­ham, re­duc­ing Ma­reeba to 10 men for the re­main­der of the match.

The sec­ond half saw a bit of a see-saw bat­tle emerge with the Dragons mak­ing use of their man ad­van­tage for large por­tions of the match while still hav­ing mo­ments of fragility that gave Ma­reeba hope of pinch­ing the goal that might win the match for them.

The longer the clock ticked the more ner­vous the Dragons seemed to be­come so when Ross De­laney col­lected a de­flected shot and stroked the ball through the keeper’s leg to give the Dragons the lead there was a mas­sive sigh of relief around the ground.

Ma­reeba still pushed for a sec­ond equaliser and did man­age to cause a cou­ple of scary mo­ments for the Dragons’ de­fence but a last gasp goal, bril­liantly taken by Daniel Fer­rero, made the game safe and the Dragons could bask in their back-to-back premier­ship wins.

The man of the match award went to Gary Cun­ning­ham who was his usual com­posed and in­flu­en­tial self in the mid­dle of the park.

The Dragons’ fi­nal match is this week­end against the com­pa­ra­ble Townsville side in the Crad Evans tro­phy match down in Townsville which will be a great way for the Dragons to sign off on the sea­son and cel­e­brate what has been a suc­cess­ful year for the club.

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