NRL: Dragons stun Sharks

Beau Ryan of the Sharks looks dejected as Dragons players celebrate victory. Photo / Getty Images
Beau Ryan of the Sharks looks dejected as Dragons players celebrate victory. Photo / Getty Images

St George Illawarra shocked little brother Cronulla 25-12 to open their 2013 NRL account, the Sharks night made worse with star playmaker Todd Carney helped from the field with a foot injury.

Without a win from the opening three games, the Dragons were given little chance before a bumper 20,130 fans at Sharks Stadium, but they bucked the trend with their most enterprising effort of the campaign.

The Sharks will be keeping their fingers crossed the loss isn't compounded by a serious injury to Carney, who had to be carried from the field late in the first half with what was diagnosed as a sprained foot.

Much-maligned five-eighth Jamie Soward was brilliant for the Dragons, scoring one try, nailing a couple of pressure-cooker sideline conversions and a late field goal, but it was the acrobatic genius of Jason Nightingale that had everybody talking.

The Kiwi winger contorted his body sensationally to nab two second half tries, the first with his entire body over the sideline and the second only millimetres inside the dead ball line as he chased a Nathan Fien kick to secure the win.

Having scored 11 first half points in total in their opening three games, the Dragons had 12 on the board inside the first 16 minutes to stun the Sharks Stadium full house.

Proving far more adventurous with the ball, a Trent Merrin offload sent Fien under the posts and five minutes later Luke Lewis was made to pay for a dropped ball when Soward picked up the dregs and ran 85 metres to double the lead.

The sight of Carney being carried off could have knocked the stuffing out of the Sharks, but Ben Pomeroy came up with his own magic trick, tapping back a ball heading over the dead ball line for Jeff Robson to halve the deficit.

There was no let-up from the Dragons after the break as Nightingale took the visitors back out by two converted tries - Sharks fans revealing their ugly side as some threw what appeared to be tennis balls onto the field as Soward lined up the sideline conversion.

He nailed it to rub further salt into the wounds - as he did again when Nightingale scored his second out wide on 64 minutes after Andrew Fifita had dragged the Sharks back into the contest with a short-range four-pointer.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan refused to blame the strain the club has been under thanks to the drugs cloud surrounding the club for the letdown.

"I could toss that one up and that might be the case but I'm not going to throw it out there as an excuse," Flanagan said.

"The Dragons were good and they played with some attitude and we didn't have that."

On Carney, Flanagan was hoping for the best.

"He thought he heard something snap but it was his orthotic, that's how much power went through his foot," he said.

"They think it's a mid-foot sprain so it's nothing to do with his achilles or anything like that."

Asked about the relief in the Dragons dressing room, coach Steve Price said:

"I think there is (a feeling of relief) in the dressing room.

"It's not as if the boys haven't been trying, they've worked their backsides off over those losses and we fine-tuned a couple of things and we went out there and replicated that tonight."

- AAP