The St George Illawarra Dragons came out to play their first game of 2013 against the best team in the NRL seemingly without a game plan.
While Melbourne showed how to win a game of footy, the Dragons showed how to barely hang on and hope.
With the ball, the Dragons appeared to be lost for direction.
This was due to the very obvious game plan employed by Melbourne, which involved charging a big guy at Soward and the Dragons outside backs.
This worked so effectively that the Dragons were lost for options, ability, and creativity.
Great coaching leads to great plays, and Melbourne had free reign with the ball in hand, mainly because the Dragons had no defence plan anywhere near as bustling or effective as Melbourne’s.
The Dragons played last year’s footy again this year, and if there isn’t a junior team anywhere in Oz that can’t read their one-and-only backline “play” I’ll eat my supporters cap without sauce or bread.
Every other team uses the exact same play and usually scores, but not the Dragons, who’s attack is always squashed by fast-up defence that causes mistakes or shuts the play down.
Defending the same play, the Dragons back-pedal.
To compound this, it appears that no-one is organising anything on-field, and the tries that the Dragons scored came from rare Melbourne mistakes rather than creative play or errors forced by great defence.
My surmise for the Dragons is that they played like they were waiting for Melbourne to make a mistake.
If that was the ‘game plan’, it was a game plan that is only effective for bottom-dwellers that pick up scraps.
The ‘top feeders’ don’t wait for opportunity, they create it.
And that’s exactly what Melbourne did.
The game was great, if only for the experience of watching such classy and skilful footy by Melbourne.
However, if the Dragons coaching staff can’t come up with a game plan to shut down opposition attack as well as create attacking opportunities, it may be a long year.