Dragons beat Eels, win minor premiership - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons beat Eels, win minor premiership

By Steve Jancetic 04/09/2009 10:56:44 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra brushed aside accusations of a late-season choke, thrashing Parramatta 37-0 at Kogarah to claim the NRL minor premiership, on Friday night.

Forced to fend off accusations of yet another late-season fade-out after three straight losses, the Dragons responded with venom as they destroyed the hottest team in the competition with a stunning six tries to nil shutout.

Winger Brett Morris finished with a hat-trick of four-pointers to finish the highest tryscorer for the regular season with 22.

If that wasn't enough to send the 17,974 strong crowd into raptures, the ground announcer's message definitely was as he relayed news of Wests Tigers win over the Bulldogs which handed the Dragons the JJ Giltinan Shield.

It also set up a likely rematch with the Eels back at WIN Jubilee Oval for a qualifying final on Sunday week, that match-up dependant on Newcastle beating Penrith on Sunday afternoon.

Should the Panthers beat the Knights, then Penrith will play the Dragons in the first round of the finals with the Eels meeting the Bulldogs on the Saturday night.

Facing questions over their premiership credentials after their recent poor run, the Dragons turned to what had put them in such a dominant position in the first place - their defence.

Not even the brilliant Jarryd Hayne could find a hole in the red and white wall, which leaked like a sieve in allowing 41 points against South Sydney last week.

From there - as coach Wayne Bennett had promised - the rest followed.

The rot started after nine minutes when Ben Creagh reached over to score, and the Dragons kept going to the left-side well with Morris scoring twice inside the space of nine minutes, including one dubious effort where he appeared to be held up over the line.

The Eels' woes were summed up when Luke Burt dropped the ball over the line just before halftime, Jamie Soward rubbing salt into the already opening would with a field goal after the siren for a 21-0 halftime lead.

Any thought of complacency was wiped away when Dan Hunt carried a couple of defenders on his way to the line seven minutes after the re-start, with Nathan Fien burrowing over before Morris scored five minutes from time.

Bennett said after the game that winning the minor premiership had not been a focus during the build-up.

"Our emphasis was not about minor premierships, it was about playing well here tonight," Bennett said

"I didn't come here to win a minor premiership, I came here to do a job and whatever that job entails and takes us - we're just happy to get the minor premiership tonight - it's all part of the journey.

"Next week starts a whole new competition for us and what we've done over the last 26 weeks will hold us in good stead.

Asked about the importance of turning the side's form around ahead of the finals, Bennett said: "The situation we were in we need to nail someone here tonight.

"We didn't come here necessarily to win the game, we just wanted to get a good performance - winning's a bonus.

Parramatta coach Daniel Anderson was adamant his side was still a finals danger.

"We haven't become a bad team in 80 minutes," Anderson said.

"We didn't earn anything tonight ... the opposition just wanted it a lot more, they were hungrier, they were a lot more clinical than we we're.

"We'll be ready (next week)."

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