22 Sep 2019

Historic Dragons NRLW win over Warriors

6:18 pm on 22 September 2019

St George Illawarra have kept their top-two hopes alive after coming from behind to defeat the Warriors 26-6 on an historic day for NRLW at Mt Smart Stadium.

Tyler Reid on the attack for the Warriors

Tyler Reid on the attack for the Warriors Photo: Photosport

Previous games had been played as curtain-raisers to NRL finals but Sunday's clash in New Zealand served as the first standalone fixture in the competition's history and showed a thirst for women's rugby league with a healthy crowd in attendance.

"I don't think the girls got caught up in the moment," Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki said afterwards.

"Perhaps, they thought because they really wanted to perform for their families, it could have been added pressure they put on themselves."

The result means this year's competition mirrors the 2018 NRLW, with every match going the same way as it did last season, setting up a mouth-watering round of fixtures next week.

The Dragons looked the more threatening against the Warriors throughout the first half, but their willingness to move the ball proved their undoing as they came up with several errors at crucial times.

Skipper Kezie Apps was held up over the line and then Rikeya Horne was denied by a forward pass two plays later, while a brilliant shift to the right went unrewarded when Shakiah Tungai lost the ball.

It was a different story for the Warriors as fearless leader Georgia Hale made 40 tackles, Krystal Rota controlled the ruck and Charntay Poko kicked her second 40/30 in as many weeks but they failed to fire after the break.

"I'm disappointed for our players and for ourselves because I know we're better than that. We spent a lot of time on 'D' in that second half and we weren't resilient enough to continue that throughout the whole of the second half," Avaiki said.

The only points in the first half came when Onjeurlina Leiataua barged over in the 15th minute.

The try scorer showed she's no one-trick pony as she and fullback Apii Nicholls produced some outstanding defence to hold Jess Sergis up after the break.

However, the Dragons finally took advantage of their territorial dominance when Shaylee Bent stormed through on the right edge to get her side on the board.

With momentum on their side, the Saints landed a telling blow when Tiana Penitani finished off a length-of-the-field set to crash over.

The result was then sealed when Maitua Feterika latched onto a perfectly weighted Maddie Studdon grubber to make it three tries in 10 minutes, before Sergis and Botille Vette-Welsh raced in two more four-pointers to put the Dragons in the box seat for a grand final berth.