The St. George Illawarra Dragons have claimed bragging rights in a hard fought local derby victory over the Cronulla Sharks, 14-12, at Remondis Stadium in front of 14,281.
The thunderstorms which threatened Penrith earlier in the afternoon tracked east over The Shire and soaked the turf which did make conditions slightly slippery.
Brett Morris was a stand out for the Red V and his efforts were rewarded as he posted his 100th NRL career try. Gareth Widdop and Gerard Beale linked together to set up Morris in the western corner. The Dragons jumped quickly to lead 4-0 after five minutes.
John Morris made the Dragons goal line defence look foolish as he sold a perfect dummy pass to slot himself between the sliding defenders to score. Cronulla hit back to take the lead 6-4 after 12 minutes.
The Dragons came into Round 3 leading the competition after two previous comprehensive victories, however it was a new challenge for them as the contest with Cronulla was a true test of the forwards.
It was a night of high flying tries as Jason Nightingale flew above Sosaia Feki (Sharks) to take a pin-point bomb kick from Sam Williams to secure the Dragons second four-pointer.
In the shadows of half time, Brett Morris sailed in for his second four-pointer of the match. Morris took a page from Wests Tigers winger, David Nofoaluma as he leapt above the defence to plant the ball down one-handed with the rest of his body in mid-air.
After 40 minutes, the Dragons in control over the home side, 14-6, as Cronulla's polish failed to see them mount pressure in the opening half.
Credit is due to the Sharks as the Dragons failed to post any further points in the second half.
The only points of the second forty minutes came late in the half as hooker John Morris once again burrowed under the defence to steal a try on the line. Cronulla fans remained hopeful of stealing victory as they trailed 14-12 in the final 10 minutes.
Mistake cost both sides points and opportunities, as the match become scrappy in the final minutes. Despite a last minute raid by Cronulla, the Dragons held onto a 14-12 scoreline to secure top position on the NRL table after three matches.
Next week the Dragons head to WIN Stadium in Wollongong as they host the Brisbane Broncos, while Cronulla head north up the M1 Freeway to battle with Wayne Bennett's Newcastle Knights.