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The St. George Illawarra Dragons have held off a fast-finishing Western Suburbs Magpies outfit to record gutsy 22-18 victory at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon. 

The Dragons raced out to an early lead with tries to Pio Sokobalavu and Jordan Pereira in the opening 10 minutes, but Wests responded with a try of their own through Tyson Gamble to quickly work their way back into the contest. 

They took advantage of their 16-10 lead at half-time with a try to Jackson Ford, before a Jai Field penalty goal gave the Dragons a comfortable two-try lead after 50 minutes. 

Two tries to Lucas Price in the second-half set up a heart-stopping finish with the Magpies trailing by just four-points with just as many minutes remaining, but their efforts were to no avail as some valiant defensive efforts from the Dragons kept Wests at bay. 

Robson inspired the eight-point win with a try-assist and some tireless defensive efforts, while Garner continued his good form with another spirited performance in a losing side. 

Sokobalavu gave his side the perfect start when he charged onto a perfectly timed pass from Robson, before a powerful surge from Pereira gave the Dragons a healthy 12-0 lead despite the attention of three Magpies defenders. 

Gamble took it upon himself to spark his side when he ran onto an impressive Luke Garner offload, with the five-eighth converting his own try to reduce the deficit to six points.

A brilliant flick-pass from Steven Marsters sent an unmarked Shaun Sauni-Esau over in the 30th minute, but the Magpies hit back when Jacob Liddle darted out of dummy-half for a classy try just three minutes later.

The Dragons had a golden opportunity to extend their lead shortly after half-time with an early attacking raid, but a poor last tackle option gifted the Magpies a seven tackle set. 

Although unable to capitalise on the initial chance, Ford reaped the rewards for his hard-work in the middle when he barged over from close range courtesy of classy pass from Adam Clune.

When Price finished off a well-executed backline movement in the right-hand corner it gave the Magpies a glimmer of hope with just 20 minutes remaining, with fellow winger Harrison O'Toole going close to scoring just moments later after a break on the other side of the field. 

Price got his second try when he latched onto a towering cross-field bomb with just under five minutes remaining, but the committed goal-line defence of the Dragons couldn't be broken in the dying stages. 

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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