St George-Illawarra have overcome the sin-binning of co-captain Jack de Belin to score a 20-10 NRL trial win over the Wests Tigers in Wollongong.
The Dragons were down 6-0 on Saturday night when de Belin was marched for striking in possession midway through the first half.
The Tigers went two tries up on David Nofoaluma’s brave effort however were pegged back when Dragons pair Tim Lafai and Jai Field crossed just before halftime.
Both teams pulled their NRL stars after the main break, the Dragons sealing the win with second-half points to co-captain Tariq Sims and Siliva Havili.
Sims said the Dragons should’ve posted more than four tries in what he believed was a dominant performance.
“We missed a couple of opportunities early where we could’ve put the Tigers to bed a lot earlier,” he said after the match.
“But that’s sort of something that’s on us, that we can make sure we’re icing those chances that we get because, when you’re beating teams by 20-30, that’s when you get confidence early in the season and you’re a real player at the end of the year.”
Dragons coach Paul McGregor had a good look at his field of candidates for his vacant halfback position, believed to be between veteran Josh McCrone and young gun Field.
Sims praised McCrone’s ability to pull the right strings, particularly when the team was tiring, and believed next week’s Charity Shield match against South Sydney would be a test for Field.
“Josh’s got that older head on his shoulders and he really knows how to steer the ship around, especially when we’re under fatigue,” he said.
“As for young Jai Field, he’s one of those players where he’s exciting – he’s learning how to play with men. Today, that’ll really benefit him.
“If he gets a spot next week, I know that’ll definitely be an eye-opener for him, but he’s always up for that, the young fella.
“As long he keeps healthy, keeps his body weight in check and keeps learning and becoming a student of the game, he’s going to become a great player at the back end of the year.”
Both coaches named a handful of NRL stars for the match, including club debuts for Tigers recruit Jamal Idris and Dragons signing Cameron McInnes.