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   Jul 05

Dragons slump to fourth straight loss

Peter Mata’utia wrestles with Justin O’Neil in the Dragons 18-12 loss to the Cowboys. Picture: Getty ImagesCOWBOYS 18 DRAGONS 12
Nanjing Night Net

ST George Illawarra’s grip on a top four position is rapidly slipping after suffering their fourth straight loss at the hands of North Queensland at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.

11,813 hardy souls braved a freezing Wollongong night to witness the clash but if ever there was an advertisement for stand alone Origins than the Cowboys 18-12 victory was it.

With Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin both on Origin duty and a casualty ward that includes Jason Nightingale, Joel Thompson, Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin, Will Matthews, Dylan Farrell and Rory O’Brien the Dragons fielded a side with four players on debut for the club with Yaw-Kiti Glymin and Justin Hunt starting the match and new recruits Luke Page and Mark Ioane making their first appearance in the Red V from the interchange bench.

Eto Nabuli was also a late withdrawal with a knee complaint paving the way for Charly Runciman to make his first top-grade appearance of the season.

The Dragons injury woes only worsened with Glymin failing to finish the match after tearing his hamstring and Peter Mata’utia battling an ankle injury to fulltime.

It showed as the Dragons managed just one try midway through the first half and barely threatened in the second as halves Benji Marshall and Greath Widdop struggled without their regular go-to men.The loss won’t see the Dragons drop out of fourth place but their hold on a top four position is loosening ahead of a now must-win match with Cronulla on Sunday.

Asked if he thought the NRL should look at the issue of State of Origin schedulingDragons coach Paul McGregor said:”At this stage I do yeah.

“It’s something I don’t like to get into too much because Ican’tcontrol it but it’s hard to play without your better players. They’re a big part of your football team and we certainly missed those two guys.There’s certainly a better option out there and the right people will find that option.”

The Cowboys – who were without superstar skipper Jonanthan Thurston and Michael Morgan as well as Test front-row duo Matt Scott and James Tamou – were only marginally better in a match that never reached any great heights.

Coach Paul Green agreed that the scheduling around needed to be looked at.

“Origin is a wonderful showpiece for the game…it’s not about Origin, it’s about the competition,” he said.

“I think we just need to value the competition a littlebit more because it does lose a bit of momentum through that period. There’s not an easy solution but I think it needs to be looked at.

The Dragons trailed 12-6 at the break on the back of two tries to centre Kane Linnett either side of Euan Aitken’s 24th minute four-pointer.TheCowboyspushed the lead out to 18-6 in the 52nd minute when Jake Granville,barged his way across from close range.

The Dragons got back in the match when Ioane crossed millimetresinside the eastern touchline tocut the margin to 18-12 with 19 minutes to play but the Dragons couldn’t find an equaliser despite a late surge.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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