The St George Illawarra Dragons have burst out of the blocks with two quick tries within the first ten minutes of their match against the New Zealand Warriors at Homebush this evening before a crowd of 16,274.
They went on with it in the second half for an emphatic four tries to two victory and a 22-10 scoreline.
The Dragons, who were beaten by the Brisbane Broncos during the opening round of the NRLW last weekend, drew first blood when their right winger Shakiah Tungai intercepted an Apii Nicholls pass and darted 80 metres to score under the posts.
Tungai converted her own try for a 6-0 lead.
Tungai picks off the pass and goes the length!#NRLWDragonsWarriors#NRLW pic.twitter.com/IK8tJh8w94— Women's Rugby League (@WRugbyLeague) September 15, 2018
They were in again not long after the restart when the 2017 women's Rugby League World Cup leading try scorer Honey Hireme received an offload in space and put a great in-and-away on Warriors fullback Apii Nicholls.
The extras were added for a 12-0 lead. The Warriors almost scored in the 15th minute but were denied and the score remained at 12-0.
Play settled down soon after and neither side could get across the other's line, even though there was an opportunity, but the final pass let both teams down in successive sets close to half-time.
In the second half, the Dragons extended their lead in the 40th minute when playmaker Melanie Howard put a deft kick through for flying winger Rikeya Horne and the ball sat up nicely for her, as she beat Warriors winger Langi Veainu's covering tackle and with Tungai converting the Dragons led 18-0.
The Warriors were in for their first try of the match three minutes later when Dragons players let a ball bounce from a kick by playmaker Sarina Clark in their in-goal area, allowing debutant Raquel Anderson-Pitman to score unopposed.
Try of the year nomination from the @NZWarriors!#NRLWDragonsWarriors 18-6 after 43 minutes.#NRLW pic.twitter.com/sYKE0Cv5Jv— Women's Rugby League (@WRugbyLeague) September 15, 2018
The Dragons were in again in the 47th minute when Howard was involved again with a great cut-out pass to Jessica Sergis, who showed great strength and recovery powers from her concussion sustained six days ago when she managed to put the ball down over the line with Warriors players hanging off her.
The Warriors bombed a certain try when their inside backs, including star centre Shontelle Woodman created space and overlap for Amber Kani.
Unfortunately for Kani, the ball came loose as she attempted to ground it while being tacked by the effervescent Horne.
The Warriors did go in with four minutes left on the clock when they attacked the Dragons left edge with great hands from their five-eighth and skipper Laura Mariu and onto Nicholls, who created the overlap for Sarina Clark to score.
With two minutes left on the clock, it appeared the Warriors were going in again, but Sergis put the flying Veainu into touch with a great ball-and-all cover tackle.
The Dragons were full of energy and running and every player did their job.
First team song 🙌 how good?! #redv pic.twitter.com/fIsEFAMdM8— The Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) September 15, 2018
As usual Kezie Apps was instrumental behind the scenes in cover defence and ran hard in a great captain's knock. She was well supported by her 16 teammates.
The Warriors were flat as compared to their effort during the previous week against the Roosters and couldn't quite execute in finishing off.
It appears the Broncos have booked their place for the final, while the three other teams will battle it out for the other spot.