Dragons snap Queensland streak as Ravalawa hat-trick leads them to win over Warriors

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A hat-trick by Fijian powerhouse Mikaele Ravalawa has inspired St George Illawarra’s 28-16 win over the Warriors in their NRL season opener on the Sunshine Coast.

The Dragons had lost their last eight games of last season, and their last nine in Queensland, but managed to get the win over a Shaun Johnson-inspired Warriors team.

The Dragons started the game at Sunshine Coast Stadium breathing fire, only for returning prodigal son Johnson to help the Warriors take the lead 16-14 early in the second half.

However, wrecking ball Ravalawa sealed his hat-trick with back-to-back tries in the 57th and 66th minutes.

When one of the Dragons’ six prized recruits on display on Saturday — ex-Queensland Origin utility Moses Mbye — crashed over in the 74th minute, after a bust by exciting fullback Tyrell Sloan, Griffin was breathing easy.

The Dragons’ 2021 finals chances slipped through their grasp in the fallout over a now infamous team barbecue.

But now there are encouraging signs after notching the win without Tariq Sims (calf), Jayden Sullivan (hamstring), Josh McGuire and Tyrell Fuimaono (both suspension) and George Burgess.

They built on a strong pre-season which featured wins over Parramatta and a Charity Shield triumph over South Sydney.

Recruits Mbye, Aaron Woods, Queensland forwards Jaydn Su’A and Francis Molo, Moses Suli and Jack Gosiewski all impressed in their official Dragons club debut.

The only concern for Griffin would have been Woods limping off in the 64th minute with a suspected hamstring injury, along with his side’s mid-game lapse.

The Dragons looked set to run away with it when they led 12-0 after 15 minutes as Sloan set up two tries.

The Warriors came roaring back off some magic from Johnson ,who was appearing in his first game for his beloved Kiwi outfit since 2018.

The Warriors cut the halftime deficit to 14-10 after Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (20th minute) grubbered for himself to score before Johnson combined with lock Josh Curran to send Wayde Egan over 11 minutes later.

In the second half, Johnson threatened to turn the match on its head when he booted a monster 40-20 after Ravalawa tried but failed to tap back his kick.

Three tackles later the Warriors took the lead when back-rower Eliesa Katoa scored off a suspected forward pass from Johnson in the 48th minute.

But Ravalawa — and the Dragons — finished strongly as the Warriors were subjected to their fourth straight loss stretching in the NRL.

Warriors skipper Addin Fonua-Blake was placed on report in the 23rd minute for an alleged crusher tackle.

© AAP

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