Dragons spoil Souths' last late chance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons spoil Souths' last late chance

By Ben Horne 05/09/2010 10:10:50 PM Comments (0)

Canterbury gave South Sydney a golden chance to sneak into the NRL top eight but they weren't good enough to take it, beaten 38-24 by St George Illawarra on Sunday night.

The Bulldogs' earlier 30-24 win over Manly meant Souths could have made a last-gasp hop into the finals if they toppled the Dragons by five points or more in the last match of the regular season.

St George Illawarra also gave their opponents a boost by resting stars Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dean Young and Jeremy Smith from action.

But while their team-sheet gave the impression they were taking their foot off the pedal, the minor premiers were ruthless in jumping to a quick 18-0 lead courtesy of a Ben Creagh hat-trick.

The dynamic second rower scored three tries in the space of 11 minutes to boost the Dragons' confidence ahead of next weekend's clash with a wounded Manly, and end the Rabbitohs' hopes of a fairytale finish.

It was a great day all-round for St George Illawarra, with Canterbury's win over the Sea Eagles ensuring they avoided bogey side Canberra in week one of the finals.

St George Illawarra took a commanding 26-6 lead into the break and, despite giving Souths a small sniff at 32-18 with 14 minutes left, they never really looked like losing.

Wayne Bennett's men sealed Souths' fate with 12 minutes remaining, when centre Matt Cooper bagged his 100th career try following a 'falcon' by team-mate Jarrod Saffy.

The Rabbitohs butchered several chances to make the finals in the last two months of the competition, although a heavy injury toll didn't help.

They tried hard against the Dragons, but were outclassed by a team who will start the playoffs as comfortable title favourites despite their reputation for folding under pressure.

Creagh's first try in the sixth minute came after a smart last-tackle play down the left side of the field.

Creagh collected again off a kick shortly after and completed his treble in the 17th minute when Nathan Fien gave him a well-timed short ball.

Souths stayed alive with a first-half try to Fetuli Talanoa and back-to-back four-pointers in the second half to Jamie Simpson and Dylan Farrell.

The Dragons' only worry is secondrower Beau Scott who was put on report for a late shot on Chris Sandow in the 60th minute.

Souths coach John Lang admitted his side men overawed by the sudden death final feel of the game and didn't handle the pressure at all.

"I think we did a bit to be perfectly honest. It was exciting to be given an opportunity to try and force our way into the finals but I do think the occasion did get to some of the boys," said Lang.

"It was a strange old week, there was good energy amongst the boys during the week and then to sit all weekend waiting to see if we were going to be playing for a spot ... We probably didn't do ourselves a lot of help and they had rested a number of their top line players."

St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett said he rested some of his stars because of niggling injuries and was delighted with how players like Nathan Fien at halfback and Kyle Stanley at five-eighth filled in.

Bennett said it remains to be seen whether the Dragons have learnt anything from last year when they qualified first and were bounced out after two losses.

"We've just got to wait and see haven't we, we're right where we were last year and over the next weeks that are in front of us we'll see whether we've learnt anything and if we've improved or if we haven't," Bennett said.

The Dragons coach said Scott was unconcerned about being put on report.

"Beau doesn't feel he made contact with him and if he did it was really slight, so it was just one of those things wasn't it, he crossed his arms and we'll have to wait and see," he said.

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