A hat-trick of tries for Joel Thompson and a double for England Test star Gareth Widdop paved the way for a stunning 42-10 victory by St George Illawarra Dragons over the Penrith Panthers today at the UOW Jubilee Oval.
The Dragons adapted to the wet and windy conditions far more effectively than the Panthers, building up an 18-4 lead at the interval thanks to two tries from Thompson and one from Jack de Belin, all of them converted by Widdop.
Penrith’s only response was an unconverted try to Waqa Blake.
And any Panthers supporters who thought things would get better in the second half were soon disappointed when Widdop raced in for his first try, which he converted to give his team a 20-point lead.
On 50 minutes Tyrone Peachey gave the Panthers some hope when he touched down in the corner and Nathan Cleary converted, but after that the Dragons took command again.
Cameron McInnes scored a try on his debut, and Widdop and Thompson added two more tries, all of them converted by Widdop, to give the Dragons a surprisingly emphatic win against a Panthers side that had been widely tipped for honour before the start of the season.
Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin Subs: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Jacob Host 17. Jai Field
Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Dean Whare 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Peta Hiku 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin Subs: 14. James Fisher-Harris 15. Leilani Latu 16. Tim Browne 17. Moses Leota
See Monday’s League Express for full coverage of the weekend’s NRL action