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Dragons, Knights secure gritty NRLW wins

St George Illawarra coach Jamie Soward has called the Sydney Roosters the best side in the NRLW ahead of their top-of-the-table grand final rematch with his Dragons side on Friday.

A 16-10 win over Parramatta at CommBank Stadium ensured Soward’s side head to Moore Park next week to open the new Sydney Football Stadium with a perfect start.

The Roosters, who defeated the Dragons in last year’s grand final, are also off to a perfect start and will want to open life at the new ground with a bang.

A try-scoring double to Page McGregor and tries from Keele Browne and Teagan Berry helped the Red V to victory after Parramatta had taken a 10-8 lead in at halftime.

“Coming here today and winning is a bonus,” Soward said.

“I think the Roosters were outstanding yesterday (Saturday) and they are the clear favourites to win the competition.

“They are playing at their new $1billion stadium and we are battered and bruised on a shorter turnaround.

“We’ll patch our team together on Tuesday and get on the bus on Friday.”

Soward’s side had to overcome a mounting injury toll including a knee problem for Talei Holmes, while star prop Elsie Albert struggled for impact on her return from an ankle complaint.

At one point the Dragons had just 14 fit bodies with captain Kezie Apps and forward duo Teagan Dymock and McGregor sent for head injury assessments.

McGregor and Browne got them off to a perfect start but their hard work was undone by the devastating combination between Parramatta centre Tiana Penitani and rugby union sevens convert Gayle Broughton.

The pair set each other up for tries in the first half but the Eels couldn’t push on after the break, as Berry scored for the Dragons in the 50th minute and McGregor added her second nine minutes later.

Broughton went off for a head injury assessment late in the game but Eels coach Dean Widders said he was happy with how she was adapting to the NRLW.

“She’s really solid in the simple things as a fullback,” Widders said. “We see some amazing things from her at training.

“As she builds, I think you’ll see a player we probably haven’t seen in the women’s game. I hope we can keep improving and she will be a big part of that.”

Meanwhile, the Newcastle Knights remain undefeated after two rounds following a tight 16-12 win over the Gold Coast Titans.

The Titans had four players put on report with skipper Brittany Breayley-Nati and forwards Stephanie Hancock, Laikha Clarke and Zara Canfield facing nervous waits before the Match Review Committee (MRC) charge sheet is released.

Knights rake Emma Manzelmann had a blinder off the bench for the visitors. With virtually her first touch, the Mackay product split the markers and scored under the posts. Four minutes later Manzelmann went to the line and threw a superb pass for fullback and ex-Bronco star Tamika Upton to score her first try for the club and give Newcastle a 16-6 lead at the break.

Newcastle coach Ronald Griffiths said Manzelmann was “electric”.

“Her leg speed is good but what I liked was when she made the break she had someone there supporting in Tamika and we scored,” he said.

“She is defensively tough and keeps put herself in the line.”

Gold Coast rallied when veteran prop Stephanie Hancock crashed over after a no-look pass from Georgia Hale, but the Knights hung on to keep the Titans winless in the NRLW.

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