'Dumb' Dragons beat Knights 20-4 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Dumb' Dragons beat Knights 20-4

By Todd Balym 03/08/2007 10:20:11 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown branded his side "dumb" and "stupid" despite the Dragons producing a controlled 20-4 victory over Newcastle to keep their slim NRL finals chances alive.

Needing to win all their remaining games to sneak into the top eight, the Dragons produced a four tries to one win to leapfrog Newcastle and move into 11th place, level with the Knights and three other teams on 18 competition points.

But while Brown and his Dragons were talking up an unlikely finals appearance, Newcastle coach Brian Smith conceded his side had no chance of reaching the playoffs due to the worst points differential in the NRL.

The Dragons had a golden chance to give their for and against a massive boost, but could only manage a 10-0 halftime lead despite having almost double the possession.

According to Smith in a first half onslaught the Dragons had 116 plays, of which 82 were in Newcastle territory, while the Knights had just 64 with only 11 in attack.

But Brown was more upset at his side's lack of composure in the second half, failing to take advantage of young forward Cory Paterson defending in the centres against Test star Matt Cooper after Adam MacDougall had dislocated his left shoulder to end his season.

The Dragons managed just two late tries to Chase Stanley (70th minute) and a 95m solo effort from Tom Hewitt (73rd minute) to secure the win after a spirited Newcastle revival.

"We were just dumb," said Brown.

"A perfect example. Cory Paterson is a front-row slash back-row marking an Australian centre (Cooper) and we give him the ball once in the second half and he made a break.

"Cory Paterson could not have prayed or dreamt for that ... it was just stupid."

The Dragons remain four points outside the top eight and face South Sydney, North Queensland, Parramatta and Manly in their run home - the Rabbitohs and Cowboys two rivals for a top eight place.

Brown believes his side, who have won successive games only once this season, can now win four straight and sneak into the finals.

"We are thinking we can win five games and we are a chance," said Brown.

"We know once we get beat it's all over."

But Smith doubts the Dragons, or any other side left on 18 points after this round, can make the finals over the remaining four weeks.

"They must have a different statistician to me," said Smith when asked about the Dragons hopes.

"We cannot make the playoffs and we understand that now and it's disappointing but we might have a bit of fun before the end of the year."

Dragons halfback Jamie Soward directed his side superbly in a dominant opening half, scoring his side's first try (18th minute) while Dan Hunt (29th) added the other.

But livewire Newcastle fullback Kurt Gidley ignited the home side's second half when he somehow scored in the corner after just four minutes, given the benefit of the doubt by referee Jared Maxwell despite hints of a double-movement and doubts over the grounding and whether he was in the field of play.

Newcastle's Cooper Vuna almost reduced the 10-4 deficit in the 62nd minute but winger Josh Morris managed to drag his leg out before the Knights winger could ground the ball.

Gidley continued to threaten to produce a boilover, pulling off trysaving tackles, one-on-one strips and setting up numerous opportunities with both hand and boot but simply running out of luck.

"It would have been a miracle turnaround for us to win that game with all the pressure on us as individuals and the way we dug in," said Smith.

"They would have lost no respect with the way they performed."

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