The Dolphins thrilled fans with a 26-12 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons at a sold-out Kayo Stadium at Redcliffe tonight.
It was the perfect celebration for Jamayne Isaako’s 100th NRL game during which he scored two tries and kicked five goals.
See the photo gallery at the end of this story
The St George Illawarra defence struggled to contain the Dolphins attack, which Dragons interim Head Coach Ryan Carr described as clinical. The sin binning of Captain Jack De Belin in the 27th minute didn't help their cause.
In the end, the Dolphins had more possession (55 per cent) and a higher completion rate (84 per cent).
It was the first game at the club’s spiritual home since their win over the Raiders in Round 2 and tonight's win came without enforcer Felise Kaufusi (suspension) and State of Origin stars Tom Gilbert and Hamiso (The Hammer) Tabuai-Fidow.
Kodi Nikorima answered the call the wear the No.1 jersey, silencing the doubters with a confident performance that proves the side is in safe hands while The Hammer is unavailable.
Anthony Milford was outstanding as five-eighth, sparking the side’s attack, defending with intent, and scoring a try in the 27th minute.
Mark Nicholls also scored for the home side as he made his return from a thumb injury with ease.
The crowd of 10,047, many wearing Dolphins jackets and beanies, loved every moment and Captain Jesse Bromwich said the team did too.
“It’s always good to come home and play here. We train here and did our preseason here … this is a real home for the Redcliffe Dolphins. We’ve played two games here now … hopefully we can keep that going, playing good footy, tough footy,” he said after the game.
With seven wins from 12 games, the side is at the halfway point in their season – a milestone Head Coach Wayne Bennett was not keen to dwell on when questioned at the post-game press conference.
Bromwich said the best part of the season so far had been their effort.
“Not only out when we’re playing games but also at training too. That goes from the top down, the coaching staff and the players. As long as we keep doing that, we’ll be right,” he said.
Bennett agreed tonight’s was a gritty win, not pretty at times but he was glad to take the two points.
“I’m happy with it. You don’t have to be pretty to win, you’ve just got to get it done,” he said.
It was clear Bennett was proud of the way Isaako handled his milestone game.
“He wasn’t going to let the boys rain on his own parade tonight. He took the game by the scruff of the neck – he kicked five out of five, scored two tries. He was making sure he wasn’t coming off the field for his 100th game without playing well,” Bennett said.
In his view, Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima also played well.
|“Kodi was very good at fullback. We’re a very adaptable team. We’ve had to be. We’ve had injuries virtually every week we’ve played,” he said.|
“Maybe the first week we played we had the best team on the park that we could get … since then, we’ve had injuries, we’ve got Origin players missing … to his credit and the team they’ve been able to find a way.”
The Dolphins head to Auckland for their Round 14 clash against the Warriors on Saturday, June 3 (3pm kick-off).
Photo gallery from the game (click through)
Photos by Dominika Lis
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