Benji Marshall finally kick-started St George Illawarra’s spluttering attack on Sunday to lead the resurgent joint venture to their fourth-successive NRL win, 31-6 over Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.
The Dragons previous three wins had been built on the back of impressive defensive performances, as was this round six victory.
But they finally put the flourish into their offence in a convincing five-tries-to-one victory over the injury and suspension-hit Dogs. Previously the joint venture had scored just 55 points in their first five games.
The Dogs completely dominated the opening exchanges but were repelled time and time again by a stoic Dragons line.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said they were then able to turn that defence into attack.
“Scoring some points on the back of that defence was nice, we probably should have scored a couple more tries,” he said.
“We kept another good football team scoreless for 40 minutes.
“We are very proud of it. It is a credit to their desire to do it and their attitude to do it, but it is very early in the competition it won’t mean much if we don’t back it up.
“It was a credit to the guys they only leaked that one try and they are pretty dirty about leaking that try, so that is a real good thought process at the moment.”
They have now conceded just two tries in 301 minutes of football.
The match wasn’t without controversy though with Dragons back-rower Tyson Frizell lucky to stay on the field after hitting Dogs prop Tim Browne with a high shot in the 50th minute.
Play was stopped for eight minutes with the score at 18-6, while Browne was attended to, before being taken off on a medicab.
He did not return.
It was the Dragons who responded best to that incident, putting on tries to Joel Thompson in the 57th minute and Euan Aitken in the 71st minute along with a Marshall field goal in the 67th minute.
After Josh Dugan crashed over for the first try of the match in the 10th minute, Marshall blew the game open when he put on tries for Peter Mata’utia and Frizell in the six minutes before halftime for the Dragons to lead 18-0 at the break.
Dogs coach Des Hasler conceded the Dragons defence was too good for his side missing James Graham, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano through suspension and Tim Lafai and Brett Morris through injury.
“I thought they defended really well, we got held up three of four times over the tryline,” Hasler said.
“Each time they got down our end of the field they came up with points and that was the difference, that was the telling factor.
“There were some poor reads on our part which was probably the most disappointing aspect, given our defence has been such a strong part of our game this season.”
A Josh Morris try in the 49th minute was all the Dogs could muster.