Controversy abounds as Dragons sneak past Manly
Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans blasted referee David Munro while coach Des Hasler says he does not know the escort rule is now after the Dragons came from behind to beat the Sea Eagles 12-10.
Cherry-Evans was furious his side didn't receive a penalty for an escort play when the Dragons' Tim Lafai got in the way of Reuben Garrick as the Sea Eagle ran towards a high kick from the halfback in the final play of the game.
"I need to ask the question because that is black and white, that is an escorted player taken off the ball,'' Cherry-Evans told Munro.
"If you're willing to make the hard call when the game wasn't on the line then unfortunately then that call needed to be made by you.''
After the game Cherry-Evans said "we wanted that call to be made".
"We are a bit biased and thought it was a black and white call," Cherry-Evans said. "They saw it the other way. That's the way footy games go. We just have to suck it up and move on to next week."
Just minutes earlier the video referee had intervened to rule a penalty for the Dragons when Brad Parker tripped Euan Aitken on a kick chase. Hasler said he had spoken with NRL officials last week regarding the rules of defenders interfering with attacking players during a kick chase,
But the failure to penalise St George Illawarra left him confused.
"I will be taking that to Bernie Sutton," Hasler said. "I thought it was questionable. It's not consistent with what they were saying. They spoke to us about it during the week… but they won't rule on an escort there."
He is known as "Bula" to his teammates but Mikaele Ravalwa is fast-becoming a try-scoring machine. The St George Illawarra winger scored the match winning try with 90 seconds remaining to cross for the fourth time in six games.
"I knew I was going to get a try," Ravalwa said. "I was celebrating. I'm so proud to be playing for the Dragons and being part of the team."
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said he was still learning the game.
"He has only played the game for a few years," McGregor said. "To repeatedly get himself involved in the game, he has been in the end of scoring tries at important times. He gets excited tonight."
FOUR ON THE TROT FOR THE DRAGONS
McGregor celebrated his new two year deal with the Dragons going on an extended winning streak. But they did it the hard way off the back of a 6-0 second half penalty count despite leading 8-4 at halftime.
"To find that desire and resilience in our defence when we needed to and have that energy at the right time of the game, you get the rewards and wins," McGregor said.
"That's how you build a team over time that produces that sort of attitude in and around what they do."
WADDELL MAGIC PASS
The Dragons withstood a mountain of defence to start the second half and were only undone by a magical ball between the legs by interchange forward Corey Waddell which led to a Cherry-Evans second half try.
Centre Tim Lafai missed two regulation penalty goals - including one to draw the scores level with six minutes remaining. The Dragons are without skipper and goal-kicker Gareth Widdop while Zac Lomax - who is a noted goal-kicker - was an unused interchange player.
"That wasn't a great night," McGregor said. "When you lose your main kicker in Gareth that can happen. Laf (Lafai) has been good the last couple of weeks. He was a little bit off."
HUNT V DCE
The race for the Queensland No.7 spot is on with Hunt and Daly Cherry-Evans splitting the honours in Wollongong.
Both players kicked and organised well with Hunt laying on two tries including the match winner while Cherry-Evans - who is line to be the Maroons skipper - scored a try of his own and put on another.
Hasler thought Cherry-Evans was the favourite.
"I thought Cherry got the points," Hasler said. "Both played big parts."
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 12 (M Dufty M Ravalawa tries T Lafai 2 goals) bt MANLY 10 (D Cherry-Evans B Parker tries D Cherry-Evans goal) at WIN Stadium. Referee: David Munro, Liam Kennedy. Crowd: 14,268