Old Saints are sinners for Dragons
Forget the St George Illawarra Dragons’ late surge on Friday night. The first fifty minutes at WIN Stadium is where the real problem sits.
The first half of Friday Night Football showed just how far apart the Dragons and the Canterbury Bulldogs really are.
The Bulldogs were perfect from the opening whistle. They looked slick as per usual and scored a soft try in the early stages. Everything pointed to a Bulldog attacking avalanche. The Saints were in real trouble and it only got worst for the home side.
It is rare in 2012 that a side looks so disinterested so early. They looked like a team that knew their fate.
The first twenty minutes of the game was a perfect example of just where these teams are headed. The Bulldogs are on a charge to September while the Dragons are headed for the scrapheap.
Surely Dragons coach Steve Price knew some tough decisions were ahead when he took the reigns from Wayne Bennett. While other teams have become attacking machines, the Dragons have broken down. No longer will tackling and kicking long win you a premiership.
While the Bulldogs push up together in attack and make Sam Kasiano look like Stacey Jones, the Dragons don’t push up at all and get picked off like flies.
It was too easy for Canterbury and must have felt like a training drill.
Dan Hunt to the middle, Ben Hornby takes one left and drops it inside to Ben Creagh. Trent Merrin back to the middle before Jamie Soward throws a looping ball out the back to Brett Morris. Hunt or Merrin back to the centre before Soward bombs for the winger.
Boring and predictable.
“I was disappointed with the first half as we don’t pride ourselves on that start. We spoke about all week eliminating the offloads and speed discipline and we didn’t do that” Dragons coach Steve Price said post match at the press conference.
“To dish up and allow that number of points so early on is not good enough for an NRL side.
“We showed credibility and strength to get back in to the game. We clawed our way back and showed signs of trying to win it back you can’t do things like that at the beginning.
“In the second-half we ran with intent and created those offloads because we ran hard.
“We had no ball during that first block in the first half because we didn’t do anything with intent.
“We’ve put ourselves in that situation and we’re going to fight our way out of it.”
The question is, can they?
The Dragons are now 6-8 and headed for the abyss.
Do Hornby and Soward have the creativity to take this team forward? Are the Dragons forwards doing enough as a pack? Should Dean Young retire now? Where is Evander Cummins?