Gareth Widdop returned to action from a knee injury for St George Illawarra Dragons and scored two tries as the Dragons defeated Wests Tigers 16-12 at ANZ Stadium today.
Widdop, Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell all came back into the Dragons’ starting side, with Jason Nightingale moving to the wing, Kurt Mann to the centres and Tariq Sims to the bench. Taane Milne was also on the bench.
The Tigers made two changes, with Michael Chee Kam replacing Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, while Esan Marsters replaces Joel Edwards on the bench.
The Tigers showed plenty of improvement from their 36-0 defeat last time out against Brisbane Broncos. They gave a run to new recruit Tui Lolohea at stand-off and for the most part they held the Dragons in a tight game.
Widdop scored all the Dragons’ twelve first-half points, with the first coming after twelve minutes when smart footwork by Kurt Mann led to Widdop strolling through some ineffective right-edge Tigers defence, while for his second he picked up a loose ball to dash 60 metres and score.
Lolohea opened the Tigers’ account with a penalty to make the score 12-2 at half-time.
In the second half Tedesco sent Kevin Naiqama over in the corner, but the Dragons responded when rookie Hame Sele sent Tyson Frizell into a gap to make it 16-6 with 24 minutes to play.
In the final stages of the game debutant Esan Marsters sent Michael Chee Kam in for his maiden NRL try, but the Dragons were able to hang on for the win.
Dragons; 19 Josh Dugan, 2 Nene Macdonald, 6 Kurt Mann, 4 Tim Lafai|, 1 Jason Nightingale, 21 Gareth Widdop (C), 7 Josh Mccrone, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Cameron Mcinnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 20 Tyson Frizell, 12 Joel Thompson, 13 Jack De Belin; Interchange: 3 Taane Milne, 11 Tariq Sims, 15 Leeson Ah Mau, 16 Hame Sele.
Tigers: 1 James Tedesco, 2 David Nofoaluma, 21 Michael Chee Kam , 4 Mosese Suli, 5 Kevin Naiqama, 6 Tu’imoala Lolohea, 7 Jackson Littlejohn, 8 Aaron Woods (C), 9 Matt Mcilwrick, 10 Ava Seumanufagai, 11 Kyle Lovett, 12 Chris Lawrence, 13 Elijah Taylor; Interchange: 14 Tim Grant, 15 JJ Felise, 17 Jacob Liddle, 18 Esan Marsters.
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches can be found in Monday’s issue of League Express