Dragons beat Eels in soggy thriller

By Steve Jancetic 02/06/2006 09:39:58 PM Comments (0)

Three field goals in a frantic final ten minutes and a try on the bell handed St George Illawarra a stunning 8-1 NRL win over Parramatta at a wet and soggy Oki Jubilee Stadium.

For a long time it looked like the encounter would go down with the 1982 effort at Henson Park between Newtown and Canterbury as the only 0-0 draw in NRL/NSWRL history before a flurry of field goals finally decided failed to trouble the scorers.

For the first 70 minutes both sides looked as if they were more concerned with not conceding points than they were with scoring them.

Then Parramatta five-eighth John Morris became the first player since North Sydney's Clayton Friend in 1989 to kick a field goal as the first scoring play of a Premiership game.

Dragons skipper Ben Hornby replied with a skewed shot from 30 metres out which just went over the crossbar before repeating the dose to put the Dragons up 2-1 with one minute remaining.

With 12 seconds remaining Parramatta had one last throw of the dice from a scrum on their own line, but halfback Jeremy Smith kicked the ball straight into the hands of Matt Cooper who strolled over from five metres out to touchdown under the posts.

A furious Smith was put on report after the final siren for pushing referee Sean Hampstead in the back after he complained to the referee that he thought he had called time off as he fed the scrum.

With heavy rain falling for much of the day and throughout the match, a good old-fashioned slugfest was always anticipated.

The teams went to break without a point being scored for the fist time since Wests Tigers and North Queensland had a fruitless opening 40 minutes in 2000.

The most exciting passage of the opening half was a scuffle just before the break, Timana Tahu and Dragons forward Corey Payne coming to blows with the Eels centre penalised after retaliating to a swinging arm.

The Eels should have scored ten minutes after the restart from a perfectly weighted Smith kick but Jarryd Hayne failed to ground the ball.

Parramatta was denied what looked a valid penalty moments later, Darryl Millard cleaning up a Colin Best fumble close to his own line from what appeared an offside position.

The desperation in the home fans was obvious the longer the game went, with repeated calls for a field goal while the Dragons were camped on the opposition's line with 15 minutes remaining.

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