The Dragons hold a narrow 6-2 lead against the Tigers after 63 minutes in Wollongong.
It was a tense opening to the game with neither side blinking but after 20 minutes the Tigers started to take the ascendancy.
MATCH CENTRE: Dragons vs Tigers live updates, score, video
Tigers skipper James Tamou and halfback Jackson Hastings have been busy, while Talatau Amone is at five-eighth for the Dragons with Jack Bird out.
The Tigers are chasing three straight wins for the first time since Round 6 in 2018 – and for the first time under Michael Maguire.
Ben Hunt crossed for the first try of the match in the 56th minute.
Dragons halfback Ben Hunt finally breaks the Tigers’ line to score after several repeat sets.
The No. 7 showed some individual brilliance to step twice off his right foot to score and Zac Lomax converted.
“He’s just at you all the time Ben Hunt, he touches the ball a lot of time, maybes too much sometimes but on that occasion he had really good awareness,” Shane Flanagan said on Fox League.
“They needed that the Dragons, they’d been camped down there a while and they needed to come away with points.
“They’ve been really clunky but it doesn’t really matter how you score.”
Dragons second-rower Josh Maguire was controversially put on report for a tackle on Luciano Leilua.
“It’s been reviewed and there is a hip-drop action, it’s going on report,” referee Gerard Sutton said.
Fox League commentator and former NRL coach Shane Flanagan disagreed.
“Gee I’m not so sure about that, I think it was just the power of Leilua pushing through the hole,” Flanagan said.
The Tigers had a penalty in front but they opt against taking the gift two points.
Instead they send it wide and a strong tackle from Zac Lomax on Oliver Gildart forces the error.
“Lomax ensures the Dragons will trail by no more than two at half-time. Big defence and he gets mobbed by his teammates,” Andrew Voss said.
The Dragons have their best chance of the half to score and Ben Hunt throws a forward pass to Aaron Woods just eight metres out from the Tigers’ line.
“Look like they panicked there the Dragons, trying to score off every play,”
“They’re looking a bit sloppy.”
Kelma Tuilagi was sent for an HIA by the independent doctor in the bunker.
Tigers second-rower Kelma Tuilagi thought he’d scored the opening try after reeling in a Luke Brooks bomb next to the posts.
The try was awarded but the bunker intervened and ruled the forward failed to ground the ball.
However, Dragons centre was penalised for tackling Tuilagi in the air and Jackson Hastings slotted the penalty goal for a 2-0 lead.
“At that speed in slo-mo, I thought he’d scored,” Andrew Voss said after watching the replay on Fox League.
“Agreed, and we didn’t get too many looks at the put down,” Shane Flanagan responded.
Dragons hooker Andrew McCullough is taken off the field for an HIA after reeling out of a tackle.
“He looks a bit groggy coming off,” Steve Roach said on Fox League.
But the McCullough passed the protocols and came back into the game 15 minutes later.
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Either the Tigers or Dragons can make it three wins on the trot when the two in-form teams face off on Sunday.
Jack Bird (suspected broken arm) is out and Talatau Amone will start at five-eighth and Jayden Sullivan has come onto the bench.
A lot can change in a fortnight — just ask coaches Michael Maguire and Anthony Griffin.
The pair were in the pressure cooker not too long ago as the Tigers went five weeks without a win and the Dragons slumped to four straight losses.
However the Tigers’ stunning one-point win over the Eels followed by a two-point win over the Rabbitohs all of a sudden their season is back on track.
As for the Dragons, they backed up a win over the Knights with a gutsy win over the Roosters on Anzac Day.
For both teams, their halfbacks Jackson Hastings and Ben Hunt have been integral in the recent success.
Both coaches have been forced into making changes to their winning sides.
Daine Laurie is out for the Tigers with Starford To’a moving to fullback and Asu Kepaoa comes onto the wing in place of the injured Ken Maumalo. Oliver Gildart is promoted to the centres to fill To’a’s spot after playing off the bench last week.
In a boost, however, gun back-rower Kelma Tuilagi returns from illness.
Dragons veteran Josh McGuire replaces the injured Jaydn Su’A with Tyrell Fuimaono coming onto the bench.
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