Hunt breathes fire into united Dragons

·3-min read

Ben Hunt has declared St George Illawarra are a united team after helping breathe life back into their season with a crucial 20-6 win over Manly.

Just days after coach Anthony Griffin's future came under the spotlight, Hunt scored two tries to put the Dragons level on wins with eighth spot.

In a virtual four-point game for both teams at Jubilee Oval, Hunt's tries helped the Dragons out to a 14-0 lead at halftime before they held on after the break.

Already ravaged by COVID-19, Manly then lost Ben Trbojevic to concussion, Sean Keppie a shoulder injury and Josh Aloiai a knee cork.

The loss left them outside the top eight, level with the Dragons and needing to win at least three of their last six to have any hope of playing in the finals.

Coach Des Hasler also claimed he would speak to referees' boss Jared Maxwell during the week, unhappy with a 10-4 penalty count that hurt his team in the first half.

But that would have mattered little to the Dragons and Griffin, after a difficult week.

Amid reports that Griffin's future was to be discussed at a board meeting and that there was a rat in the ranks with claims of an unhappy dressing room, Hunt said he did not need to address the group.

"When there is things going on like that, sometimes you get a vibe that there is something going on between the players," Hunt said.

"I didn't feel it at all. It wasn't mentioned. You just get on with the job."

Jack Bird, who deputised at centre and fullback after Cody Ramsey suffered a serious knee injury, also insisted there were no issues in the group.

"We all get along with Hook (Griffin), we all like playing under him and we're a tight bunch," Bird said.

"We've been inconsistent, but I've never seen why teams sack coaches midway through the year.

"We've seen it with the Bulldogs and the Tigers and stuff, I just think it takes a lot away from your game and the concentration side of things.

"I'm happy to play under Hook and I'm happy that he's staying."

Hunt was the star in it all.

He scored the first try of the game when he slipped over in wet conditions close to the line before burrowing through Manly's defence.

The halfback's next try came in more conventional fashion, running onto a brilliant grubberkick from Talatau Amone.

And while Hunt's try-scoring prowess put the Dragons on the road to victory, his kicking and game management was just as vital.

The Dally M leader when votes went behind closed doors last month, Hunt forced four line dropouts off his own boot alone in the wet.

While Hunt was in control for the Dragons, Manly's attack was clunky with lock Jake Trbojevic, hooker Lachlan Croker and second-rower Andrew Davey all out with COVID-19.

Their dangerous right edge was also rendered close to ineffective with Haumole Olakau'atu battling an ankle injury, while a run of penalties left them with little ball early.

"We have been such a disciplined team for the past month," Hasler said.

"It's not a whinge or a complaint. I just don't see how we can warrant a two-to-one penalty count against us at (9-5).

"I don't get it."

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