Dragons' Hunt the master over NRL Cowboys

St George Illawarra's Ben Hunt and Corey Norman have starred in a gutsy 25-18 win over the North Queensland Cowboys.

In an error-ridden affair in Townsville, both sides totalled a whopping 24 errors on the night to gift each other prime attacking opportunities throughout the match.

The teams could barely be split across all other categories, but it was the return of Norman and a strong display by halfback Hunt that guided the Dragons to a much needed first win.

St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin was pleased Hunt notched his first win as captain, but noted as a collective they had to be better.

"I thought some of his (Hunt's) big plays in defence were enormous particularly that last 15 minutes," Griffin said.

"It was a really good captain's knock and they all played for each other and he led that.

"Things will get better, but we're making it hard for ourselves at the moment - we almost beat ourselves again tonight."

Hunt bagged two try assists, setting up Mikaele Ravalawa in the first half and providing a beautiful kick for Zac Lomax to crash over in the second.

The 15,120 strong crowd tried to lift their Cowboys to a spirited comeback, but the Dragons' defensive line held strong to grind out the victory.

The introduction of Jake Granville sparked a home side revival, crossing in the 57th minute, ten minutes after Valentine Holmes, but the continual coughing up of the football and poor choices on fifth tackle options cost them dearly.

"I think we are just a little scared to go after it at the moment," Cowboys coach Todd Payten said.

"The basic errors when we have the running of play is really detrimental to our headspace and winning games.

"We just lack that punch, we weren't clean, and I don't think we're all on the same page."

The Dragons weathered an early storm, with the visitors looking the much more threatening side.

Coen Hess plucked the ball from a Jake Clifford kick to open the home side's account, before the Dragons bounced back with tries to Ravalawa and Josh Kerr.

The Cowboys were lucky not to be further behind at the break, after a Norman pass to put Cody Ramsey over was ruled forward.

Norman almost slotted the first two-point field goal of the year right on halftime, but was deemed to be just inside the 40 metre line.