Isaako, Milford star as Dolphins beat Dragons
Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako has celebrated his 100th NRL game in style with a majestic display in a 26-12 win over St George Illawarra.
Isaako extended his lead as the NRL's top points-scorer this season with two tries and five goals at Redcliffe's Kayo Stadium on Thursday night.
Five-eighth Anthony Milford had his best game in a Dolphins jersey to set up a try and score one himself against a lacklustre Dragons outfit who bumbled and fumbled their way to defeat without inspirational skipper Ben Hunt.
Both sides would have given their respective coaches heart palpitations with some substandard decision-making and ball-handling but the Dolphins' spine was superior with Milford, fullback Kodi Nikorima and hooker Jeremy Marshall-King making key contributions.
"I'm happy with it," Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett said of the victory.
"You don't have to be pretty to win. You've just got to get it done."
Milford kicked to corners and was easily the best playmaker on the field, showcasing the class that once led to him representing Queensland.
It is not often that a winger is the most valuable player on a regular basis for an NRL side but Isaako is proving to be just that for the Dolphins.
Coach Wayne Bennett said before the game the 26-year-old was "reborn" after several lacklustre years with Brisbane. He now has 138 points for the season.
"He came to the Broncos (at the start of 2016) because of me and was someone everyone wanted at the time because he was a schoolboy star," Bennett said.
"We have a good relationship but he wasn't going to let the boys rain on his own parade tonight. He took the game by the scruff of the neck."
The win solidified the Dolphins' position in the top eight and kept the Dragons in last place as they await the expected signing of Jason Ryles as head coach in 2024.
Interim Dragons coach Ryan Carr had a last-minute win over the Sydney Roosters last week but there was to be no miracle on this occasion.
"It was a frustrating game as a whole for us. We made it way too hard on ourselves," Carr said.
The Dolphins set up the win with three tries in the space of six minutes in the opening stanza. Milford kicked high for Isaako who dazzled in the air and with his feet. Marshall-King put Mark Nicholls through threadbare goal line defence with guile and Milford showcased a classic show and go.
Dragons skipper Jack de Belin was sin-binned for a cannonball tackle and put on report.
"I don't think I went in too hard or too low with bad intent. I was pretty shocked in all honesty to be sin-binned," de Belin said.
The visitors did some stupid things, with fullback Tyrell Sloan penalised for giving lip to the referee when the Dolphins were on their own tryline.
Dragons hooker Jacob Liddle tried his heart out but lacked support in a display that showcased why his side are propping up the ladder.