The Dragons have bounced back from consecutive thrashings to outclass the Dolphins 38-12 at WIN Stadium on Saturday.
After conceding 80 points in their losses to the Broncos and Sharks, the Red V discovered their defensive resolve to restrict the Dolphins to just two tries.
As is so often the case, skipper Ben Hunt was the driving force behind the victory with a try, seven tackle breaks and a try assist as the Dragons spoiled the party for rival captain Jesse Bromwich's 300th NRL game.
Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako had a chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute after Jacob Liddle was penalised for a strip but the attempt sailed wide.
Just a minute later Isaako made amends when he dived into the corner after some nice hands by halves Anthony Milford and Isaiya Katoa. The winger converted his own try for a 6-0 lead for the visitors.
The Dolphins then suffered a blow in the 18th minute when Milford left the field with a hamstring injury and shortly after the Red V had their opening try when Jacob Liddle darted over from dummy half.
The bounce favours Lomax
Liddle then turned provider in the 27th minute when he delivered a short ball to Blake Lawrie to power over for his second try of the season. Zac Lomax converted for a 12-6 Dragons lead.
A penalty against Jack de Belin for a dangerous tackle late in the half handed Isaako a chance to add two more points and he duly landed the shot to make it 12-8 at the break.
Two minutes into the second half the Dragons extended their lead when Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow failed to clean up a Talatau Amone grubber and Lomax pounced to make it 16-8.
Ravalawa steams onto Hunt pass
Hunt found his way to the line in the 54th minute as the Dragons opened up a 14-point lead with the breeze at their backs.
In the 62nd minute Hunt delivered a superb long ball for Mikaele Ravalawa to steamroll defenders and score out wide as the home side put the result beyond doubt.
Dolphins prop Mark Nicholls was sin binned with 13 minutes to play for a professional foul and the Dragons capitalised on their one-man advantage with Jack Bird feeding Ravalawa for the winger's second of the night to make it 32-8.
With eight minutes to play the Dolphins hit back with a spectacular long-range try featuring great work by Isaako and finished off by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who now has six tries for the season.
Tyrell Sloan then exploded into a hole from 40 metres out and got the ball down for the Dragons' seventh try despite Tabuai-Fidow's best efforts to deny him.
Match: Dragons v Dolphins
Round 5 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
- Dragons forward Jaydn Su'A was placed on report in the 11th minute for a dangerous tackle. He played just 24 minutes of the match before succumbing to a calf injury.
- Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa went on report in the 32nd minute for a late tackle.
- Jack de Belin became the third Dragon to go on report in the first half when he was reported a dangerous tackle in the 38th minute.
- Dolphins skipper Jesse Bromwich became the 46th player in premiership history to play 300 games.
- Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako has scored five tries in five games in 2023. He finished the night with 197 running metres and five tackle breaks.
Isaako with a classy finish
- The Dragons have won their past six games at WIN Stadium.
- Centre Moses Suli had a day out for the Dragons with 145 running metres and three tackle breaks.
- Dolphins prop Mark Nicholls was sin binned in the 67th minute for a professional foul.
- Fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has now scored at least one try in every one of the Dolphins' five games.
Hunt gives Dragons a handy lead
Play of the Game
After taking 91 games to cross for his first NRL try Dragons big man Blake Lawrie has exploded out of the blocks in 2023 with two in five games. He kick-started the season with a four-pointer in Round 1 against the Titans and added another on Saturday night in Wollongong as he stormed over from close range in the 27th minute. Lawrie ran for 83 metres in the first half and had three tackle breaks to help put the home side on the front foot.
Lawrie is in rich try-scoring form
What They Said
"That was the most complete performance we've had this year and I was really happy for the boys that they got out there and played for each other and they felt that. We knew last week wasn't and wasn't what we need to be so it was good to see them do that tonight. I thought Junior [Amone] really added something to us tonight and he and Ben combined well for their first game together for the year."
- Dragons coach Anthony Griffin
Dragons: Round 5
"They were just too good for us today. Anthony Milford has done a hamstring so he's looking at 3-4 weeks. Leaves me looking to the sky and saying a few prayers [with O'Sullivan and Milford both out]. We should have Kodi Nikorima back next week. We've been up for a month and we've kind of played in two semi-grand finals to be candid and they have handled it great but today we didn't play with that energy we've been playing with." - Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett
Dolphins: Round 5
The Dragons travel to the Gold Coast in Round 6 for a Sunday afternoon clash with the Titans. The Dolphins are also in the Sunshine State next week for a game against the Cowboys in Townsville.