Dragons claim second Wheelchair Premiership
Minor Premiers St George Illawarra Dragons have won this season’s NSW Wheelchair Rugby League premiership, defeating the Newcastle Knights 42-34.
It is the second consecutive grand final win for the Dragon’s team.
The match began with great physicality, as both teams did not hold back on their collisions.
The impact of the first five hit ups from both sides, sending applause from spectators that had filled the stadium.
Leading those charges were Knight’s captain, Fabian Castillo, and his opposite, Yara Ryan.
As well as the big hits, the speed of the play the ball had risen to a new level, providing for a fast and entertaining brand of Wheelchair Footy.
Newcastle were first to score late in the first half, but the Dragons returned fire in the following set, and the tries going tit-for-tat.
A controversial try just before half time to the Dragons saw them take the lead 18-12 going into the break.
In the second, it was the Dragons that kicked away as the Knights were unable to keep up their first half intensity.
The competition’s top point-scorer for the season, Moey Chemaissem continued his freakish scoring ability with four tries and seven goals.
While veterens Ryan and Craig Cannane guided the St George side impressively around the court, and for the Knights, Castillo picked up two tries and five goals in a fantastic captain’s effort.
Dragon’s skipper, Ryan was deemed the winner of the Jeremy Doyle Memorial Trophy, as selected by a panel of NRL representatives, including Todd Greenberg and Martin Meredith.
The “JD” Memorial Trophy is awarded to the man of the match and honours of one of the founders of the sport in Australia who died of cancer three years ago.
Earlier in the day, to qualify for the grand final, the Dragons had to face a tough Parramatta Eels team that matched them physically in the early stages.
During the match, the Eels had their opportunities and just before half time had hit the lead.
However, a patient St George side waited for their opportunities and like many times this season, capitalised with controlled, planned moves.
Meanwhile, the Knights had an easy semi-final match against the injury-plagued Canberra Raiders.
Newcastle piled on the points for a comprehensive 62-6 victory to see them qualify for the grand final with relative ease.
In the division two grand final, the Bulldogs comfortably accounted for the Sydney Roosters 36-18.
The Sharks and Panthers were eliminated in the first round of the division two semi finals.
Grand Final: St George Illawarra Dragons 42 (Tries: Chemaissem 4, Ryan 3, Goals: Chemaissem 7) def Newcastle Knights 34 (Tries: Castillo 2, Grove, Johnson, Attard, Holloway, Goals: Castillo 5)
Grand Final (div 2): Canterbury Bulldogs 36 (Tries: Begman 5, Gully 2, Okkonen 1, Goals: Gully 2) def Sydney Roosters 18 (Tries: Di Stefano 2, Baxter 1, Goals: Baxter 2, Di Stefano 1)