Moltzen's hat-trick seals Dragons' fate

TIM MOLTZEN has burnt St George Illawarra. Again.

The Wests Tigers fullback, who infamously reneged on a commitment to join the other joint-venture club this season, scored three tries to all but consign the Dragons to their first year without finals football since 2007.

Each of his tries was telling. One of them, scored just before half-time, kept his side in the game. The second was tinged with controversy, with video referee Bernard Sutton giving the hosts the benefit of the doubt in what appeared to be a simultaneous put-down with Ben Creagh. And the final one, the result of a brilliant no-look pass from Benji Marshall, sealed the result and, most probably, ended the Dragons' season.

Given he was tackling the Red V when he could have been wearing it, you would assume the victory held special significance. If so, Moltzen was not letting on.

''I got all of that out of the way in the first game [against the Dragons in round three],'' he said.

''Coming here tonight was just another game for me. I prepared like it was any other game, studied the team like I usually do and tried to go out there and do my job for the team.

''Like I said, I'm just happy to go out there and get the two points and can move forward.''

Marshall, Moltzen's former flatmate, added: ''I was very happy, I thought he stood up tonight.

''His most dangerous game is his running game, so to see him run that try in just before half-time, I knew he was pretty switched on. It was a good overall performance and, yeah, really happy for Timmy.''

Like they did against the Eels, the Tigers came from behind. This time it was only an eight-point deficit but, given the atrocious conditions, it appeared a commanding one. But after weathering the conditions - and a Dragons onslaught - they finished four tries to three victors.

In their first year under Steve Price, and their first since Wayne Bennett's exit, the Dragons appear destined to finish in the bottom half of the ladder. Yet despite opening a four-point gap from the chasing pack on the competition ladder, Tigers coach Tim Sheens refused to declare his eighth-placed side finals certainties. Nor would he put a pen through the Dragons.

''There's still three games to go and those six points are vital. Our for-and-against has improved again, which is important tonight,'' Sheens said. ''You can't expect the fact that they're gone. It's very tough for them now or any team that's four behind us. It's like being in front with 10 to go, you still can't switch off.''

Jamie Soward, after being cut to the Illawarra Cutters last weekend, was recalled to the Dragons bench. Wearing the No.14 jersey, he replaced Mitch Rein in the 29th minute and even had his first touch at dummy half before falling back into his customary pivot role. Although his performance was not spectacular, he is likely to remain in the top grade for the rest of the season after his replacement, Nathan Fien, was taken to hospital with a shoulder/arm injury.

The story Moltzen's hat-trick seals Dragons' fate first appeared on WA Today.

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