St George Illawarra Dragons' revival continued as they picked up their third win in their last six as they saw off the injury-hit Manly Sea Eagles at the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday night.
Zac Lomax picked up a try, two assists and kicked five conversions as his side jumped up four places to 11th, leaving them just two points adrift of the top eight.
Story of the match
Despite their injury concerns, Manly started the match the stronger of the two sides and got on the scoreboard after just 10 minutes. It was former Dragon Joel Thompson who opened the scoring against his old employers as he collected Daly Cherry-Evans short ball and powered over from close range. Reuben Garrick – who has had a torrid season from the tee to date – was off target with his first effort of the night.
Despite their slow start the Dragons soon found their footing in the game and got their first score of the encounter with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half. Josh Keer collecting the short ball from Ben Hunt – questionably forward but the referee saw no issue – and the big prop forward crashed over to level the scores. Zac Lomax added the extras to give the Dragons the lead.
The Dragons extended their lead just two minutes later in rather fortunate fashion. Cherry-Evans broke through the Dragons line before throwing the ball left towards the supporting Thompson. However unfortunately for the Manly seven, Zac Lomax was alert to the danger, intercepting the pass before throwing the ball to Matt Dufty and there was no stopping the inform fullback. He raced 60 metres down the left flank to touch down. Lomax hooked the straightforward conversion wide of the upright.
The Dragons continued the second half as they had ended the first, dominating the ball as they aimed to put some distance between themselves and the leagues bottom club, the Canterbury Bulldogs.
They made it a two-score ballgame when Zac Lomax added two-points from the tee after the Sea Eagles were penalised when Jorge Taufua tackled Dufty without the ball as he attempted to get on the end of his own grubber. The Manly winger was sent for 10 in the bin for the professional foul.
The Dragons had ten minutes to make their extra man count and they did exactly that five minutes after Taufua’s dismissal. Mikaele Ravalawa got his first score of the night over in the right corner after an incredible, out-the-back offload from Lomax. The Dragons centre nailed the touchline conversion to make it a three-score, 14-point lead.
The only thing missing from Lomax's performance was a try and that was exactly what he got eight minutes from time when he intercepted Cade Cust's pass on the 40 and raced away to touch down in the corner. He couldn't add the extra's from the touchline on this occasion. The Sea Eagles lead by 18.
There was still time for more points for the hosts as their half-back pairing combined for another four-pointer three minutes from time. An incredible reverse kick from Adam Clune was read perfectly by Corey Norman who touched down under the upright. Lomax added to his tally with another two from bang in front.
They weren't finished just yet though. Euan Aitken got in on the act with a try of his own - his sixth in total against the Sea Eagles - as he got over in the corner on the hooter. Lomax made it 5/7 with the boot, adding the extras as the Dragons wrapped up their biggest win of the season.
What's next for both sides?
The Dragons will look to build on this performance - arguably their best of the season - when they welcome the struggling Bulldogs next Saturday.
Meanwhile the Sea Eagles - who have now suffered three consecutive losses - have the daunting prospect of a clash against the high flying Parramatta Eels.