St George Illawarra scored an uninspiring 20-10 NRL win over a depleted Melbourne on Saturday night in Wollongong to move into the top eight.
In one of the most-dour games of the season, the Dragons finally put a largely second-string Storm to the sword late in the second half when Kurt Mann crossed in front of 7568 fans at WIN Stadium.
Missing Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk on State of Origin duty and hit by the 11th-hour withdrawals of Cameron Munster, playmaker Blake Green and forward Tim Glasby, the Storm looked shades of their usually well-drilled selves.
Despite the Dragons being handed a mountain of opportunities – at one point getting seven straight penalties – they repeatedly failed to capitalise on their chances.
The Storm were always expected to struggle with a lion’s share of their salary cap not on the park and being steered around by teenage debutant Brodie Croft and second-rower-cum-half Tohu Harris.
While the Dragons were missing Tyson Frizell (Origin) and Josh Dugan (elbow), they looked limp in attack in a performance that would not have impressed coach Paul McGregor.
They completed just 29 of 42 sets, made 11 errors and gave away 11 penalties.
The Dragons went up 10-2 in the 47th minute via a Gareth Widdop penalty goal and were repeatedly turned away by a stout Melbourne defensive line.
The visitors gave themselves a sniff in the 58th minute when Croft bombed for a flying Suliasi Vunivalu, however the Dragons did enough to seal the result.
Mann crossed in the right corner in the 66th minute while a Mitch Rein try five minutes later sealed the result as the Dragons temporarily moved into the eight and could finish the round as high as eighth, depending on other results.
The game also marked Tariq Sims’ first in a Dragons jumper following a mid-season move from Newcastle.