Hornby off sick bed to lead Dragons win
Ben Hornby thanks the fans during the Dragons vs Warriors match at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. (AAP Image/Actionphotographics, Renee McKay)
Ben Hornby almost missed his own farewell before the St George Illawarra skipper climbed off his hospital bed to say goodbye to his home fans in style with a 38-6 NRL crushing of the Warriors in Wollongong.
Forced to seek medical assistance after being struck down by a stomach bug, Hornby said he only knew in the warm-up that he would be a definite starter for what would be his and Dean Young’s last appearance at WIN Stadium.
“Yesterday, I thought I wasn’t even going to get to the game,” said Hornby, who fell victim to the bug along with teammates Mitch Rein and Daniel Vidot.
“I thought there’d be all this celebration going on and I won’t even be here.
“I woke up at about 2.30 this morning and felt a bit better and just hoped that I was going to get better throughout the day and I did.
“In the end, fate played its part.”
Fate delivered a seven-tries-to-one rout for the Dragons, the midweek sacking of coach Brian McClennan doing little to halt the Warriors’ slide as they slumped to a seventh straight loss.
Perhaps interim coach Tony Iro should have heeded the message as a fire alarm sounded in the western grandstand during a 10-minute burst midway through the second half in which the Dragons scored three converted tries to put the game away.
“Warning, evacuate now,” blared a recorded voice.
But Iro refused to be too critical as his side descended into a rabble following halftime after losing Shaun Johnson to a head knock just before the break.
“The boys tried hard, fought right till the end,” Iro said.
“We’re not playing with a lot of confidence or a lot of luck at the moment.”
Asked if the result had dulled his desire to take on the job permanently, Iro said: “I’m just keen on getting this side to perform next week in front of our home crowd.
“It’s been a tough year for our members. We certainly owe them a good performance.”
The Dragons led 12-6 at the break as Will Matthews and Chase Stanley scored either side of a Johnson try.
But it was carnage after the restart, Jason Nightingale grabbing a double before Josh Miller and Ben Creagh added their names to the scoresheet.
Hornby missed with a sideline conversion after Matt Cooper’s late try.
“It’s a fitting reward for Dean and Ben – they’ve been the heart and soul of this footy club for a number of years now,” Dragons’ coach Steve Price said.
“It’s important that we back it up next week to finish the season on our terms.”© AAP 2013
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