It could be a long year for Dragons fans

Bazzio Roar Guru

By Bazzio, Bazzio is a Roar Guru

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32 Have your say

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • March 11th 2013 @ 9:00am
      Dr Chop said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      What gives me hope as a Dragons fan is that the mistakes we made (intercept passes, lazy errors, poor fifth tackle options) were all stupid mistakes, and stupid mistakes are the easiest kind to fix. I’ve always been a fan of Steve Price. I thought he went through a baptism of fire last year. However, it’s what he takes out of last year that counts. He needs to learn from last year’s mistakes (not making the tough calls when it came to Hornby and Young). Playing Fien at halfback is a plain stupid and negative move. The Dragons are starting from square one in the most important position on the field. Fien won’t be there next year (at least he shouldn’t be, if Price keeps Fien next year then that’s even stupider) which means the Dragons will start from square one two years in a row. Drinkwater may not be the answer, but at least Price can say he tried if he drops Fien for the young kid. Simply put, if Price doesn’t make a call on Fien then Doust needs to make a call on Price.

      I truly think the Dragons will improve as the year goes on. And despite the scoreline I thought there was a lot to like about yesterday’s performance. Merrin was great for us in the meters and offload departments. Leeson Ah Mau i thought had a blinder. He proved why he was picked ahead of Jack De Belin. There was also a lot to like about Beale and Frizzell. In fact, except for the halves I thought there were no players who you could really say they had a bad game (although Bronson Harrison was very quiet, he needs to have more of an impact). Fien is simply not a first grade level halfback. He can fill in there for sure. But his general play kicking and passing are not up to the standard required to be a first grade halfback. Same as Hornby did last year, it drags Soward’s performance down because he is the only player on the field who can kick and pass. People criticize Soward for not taking the line on. Give him a halves partner who can do some of the kicking and can execute set plays with enough precision, and he’ll then have time to take the line on.

      • Roar Guru

        March 11th 2013 @ 9:20am
        Dogs Of War said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        If Price is smart, he will inject Drinkwater from the bench for 4-5 games, as Fien can also play Hooker. This would allow him to gain confidence in the role without all the responsibility

      • March 11th 2013 @ 9:37am
        Whites said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Pretty much agree with all of this. Fien shouldn’t be halfback.

        • March 11th 2013 @ 1:50pm
          Dr Chop said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          In the short term Fien is probably the better option of the two. He is a former rep player and a seasoned first grader. He had a bad game yesterday, but by and large he is a class act. The thing is, he’s not going to be there next year, so by playing him at halfback, the Dragons will be starting from square one 2 years in a row. Play Drinkwater now and expect mistakes, expect poor passes, poor fifth tackle options and missed tackles. But also expect him to become a better player for it, and expect him to build a formidable partnership with Jamie Soward for 2014 and beyond. Price’s dilemma is probably that if he bloods the young fella and he doesn’t set the world on fire, Drinkwater will be crucified by the Dragons faithful, and be worse off for the experience. That’s understandable. Think back to Matthew Head. Should Price blood Drinkwater, the Dragons fans need to learn to be patient with him, just in case he’s not a Cherry-Evans or a Reynolds.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 9:50am
        Ken said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        I’m with you, as a Dragons fan a 20 point loss without fail puts me in a foul mood, but the Dragons looked like a team that’s starting to come together – much more cohesive than they were in the Charity Shield. The Storm looked very well oiled and ominous for a first game of the year but the Dragons had them on the run for significant periods of the game and just let themselves down with some poor options at inopportune times.

        As superstar superhuman said, most of the forwards had decent games, Beale looked solid, Morris was as dangerous as ever and I also thought Soward was taking the line on a lot more than last year. I haven’t seen enough of Drinkwater to make a call but I agree Fien just isn’t the answer, he’s a great bloke to have in the team for utility value but he just doesn’t have the full kitbag of skills required to be a top grade halfback. We’re not going to get there with Fien so I’d be keen to see Drinkwater get a chance as well.

        So in response to the original article, I’m actually quite optimistic about this year as a Dragons fan. Melbourne in Melbourne isn’t exactly a ‘gimme’ game, the way they were playing 1st round they would have done similar or worse to most teams in the comp. The Dragons could go on a bit of a run this year though once they get their combinations together.

      • Roar Guru

        March 11th 2013 @ 10:41am
        Bazzio said | March 11th 2013 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        Stupid mistakes are entirely unacceptable for full-time footy players, superS. The same stupid mistakes of yersterday were made all last year! And for Stanley to gift Melbourne a penalty when under pressure by tackling Slater while still in the air was one of the MOST thoughtless, stupididities I’ve seen. IMHO that one stupid indiscretion handed Melbourne the game on a platter, and to that extent it looked like tanking, especially when Stanley apologised to Slater, but not his team-mates.

        • March 11th 2013 @ 11:00am
          Ken said | March 11th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          A fair enough point, I was ropeable about that tackle (the nondescript play that led to the O’Neil try also had me yelling at the TV) but that doesn’t mean stupid things aren’t done on footy fields all the time. Just check out Graham in the GF last year.

          • Roar Guru

            March 11th 2013 @ 11:10am
            Bazzio said | March 11th 2013 @ 11:10am | ! Report

            . . . . or Mundine’s flash dive dropping the ball for the match-winner St G v Melb grand final

            • March 11th 2013 @ 1:56pm
              Captain Obvious said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

              …or a brain snap by a certain J. Ainscough.

              (sorry for bringing that up)

              • Roar Guru

                March 11th 2013 @ 6:20pm
                Bazzio said | March 11th 2013 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

                I had successfully forgotten Ainscough . . . . . . . . . until now.

            • March 11th 2013 @ 3:49pm
              Ken said | March 11th 2013 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

              Yep and then Melbourne dropped the ball over the line later in the same game and another stupid decision was made on the field – by B Harrigan.

            • March 11th 2013 @ 4:23pm
              Jeff Cook said | March 11th 2013 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              Thanks Bazzio
              Yes , that certain stupidity still is sick in my throat. .

              • Roar Guru

                March 11th 2013 @ 6:17pm
                Bazzio said | March 11th 2013 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

                We have all choked on it ever since!

        • March 11th 2013 @ 1:43pm
          Dr Chop said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

          The Dragons were tanking? That’s one I’ve never heard before. Whatever gets you through the night mate.

          Read my post properly because you clearly didn’t. In no way did I condone the stupid mistakes made. I just said that they are the easiest ones to fix. The Dragons attack needs work there’s no doubt. But precision in attack comes with time. It’s round one. The Dragons aren’t going to come out and use every set play they practiced in the off-season. The Dragons have almost a completely new spine. Beale, Soward, Rein and Fien (at halfback) simply haven’t played enough footy together to be able to execute those plays effectively and with precision. Compare that to Cronk, Slater, Smith and Widdop, who have been the Storm’s spine for the last 2 years (and Cronk, Smith and Slater who have spent the best part of 10 years playing together for club, state and country).

      • Roar Guru

        March 11th 2013 @ 11:06am
        Bazzio said | March 11th 2013 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        Dragons attack was one-out hit-up after their backline was showed up by the Melbourne defence. Melbourne attack follows key play-makers Cronk, Smith, and Widdop. when any of these guys run the ball, there are at least two running forwards and one back either side in support. This happens EVERY time Melbourne break the defensive line. If Price can’t see such obvious signals and prep a team to counter them, he needs a wake-up shake-up.

    • March 11th 2013 @ 9:20am
      Charles NSW said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Steve Price has had a good look at his team’s first outing and must make some urgent changes if he wants to prove that he is a long term coach.
      First of all the ½ back position is not working and if players like Joshua Drinkwater and Adam Quinlan are not ready then the next best potential ½ back at his disposal is Jamie Soward who will organise the troops all day and utilise his kicking game.
      This will allow the coach to either put Nathan Fiend at 5/8th to give him more time to think or preferably someone who will attack with speed and a good passing game. Possibility someone like Chase Stanley or perhaps Daniel Vidot.
      With deep respect to Nathan Fiend he is past the role of ½ back a long time ago as it requires quick thinking and speed.
      If they get the halves fixed up then they will be in with a show but they must do it now!

    • March 11th 2013 @ 9:24am
      B.A Sports said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      I think the Dragons can be pretty happy with their defence. They conceded 5 tries in the end, but one was from a charge down and another from an intercept. The Storm’s last try a sweeping movement from right to left, was perfectly executed and as i watched the replays, there was no one to blame, it was just brilliant attack.

      Their attack was poor and i don’t see it getting a lot better and it, to me, is because their forwards are a little too one dimensional. I would say they will be in a lot of game swith under 40 points in total and they will win a few of those games where they get the bounce of the ball etc.. but I don’t see them making the 8.

    • March 11th 2013 @ 10:17am
      Charles NSW said | March 11th 2013 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      It is always hard to say what is behind the scenes but the team Steve Price first picked was better than the one that what actually went on first. However I see a lot of potential in this Dragons side, once the halves are sorted. I like the thought of Matt Prior at lock he is showing good potential there. It will be interesting to see what Steve Price has in mind! I bear in mind the thought of Joshua Drinkwater in as 1/2 back now but I feel he should be groomed with time for his own and Dragons future. Therefore I feel Soward is the best proposition at the moment.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 2:08pm
        Dr Chop said | March 11th 2013 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        Who would you play at five eighth if Soward is halfback

        • March 11th 2013 @ 3:06pm
          Charles NSW said | March 11th 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

          As I had said earlier we need someone with speed and a good pass. Chase Stanley, Daniel Vidot may be worth a look at. Also this Evander Cummins shows great potential as a fullback so he may be worth a go. The end result the coach needs a 1/2 back or 5/8 time to develop. So put the most experienced at 1/2 and develop the 5/8 for the future. Perhaps even Joshua Drinkwater as he will have more time to think at 5/8.

          • March 11th 2013 @ 4:39pm
            Dr Chop said | March 11th 2013 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

            Exactly. Cummins shows potential at fullback. He’s played juniors as a fullback. He is a fullback. Not a five eighth. Chase Stanley isn’t that far fetched. But he’s more of a stop-gap solution than a permanent one. I doubt he could handle the pressure of being the club’s five eighth as opposed to someone who can cover at five eighth. Vidot though is ridiculous. No hope in hell would he play 6

            • March 11th 2013 @ 4:49pm
              Charles NSW said | March 11th 2013 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

              I do not know those players well enough but what I am saying he has to develop someone in either position unless he keeps Fiend where he is and that means he would have to improve greatly.

    • March 11th 2013 @ 10:38am
      eagleJack said | March 11th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      It was interesting listening to Bellamy on radio last night say that he had requested a drinks break for the players but St George refused. Under the current rules a drinks break wasn’t warranted due to the required temperature not being breached, but if both clubs agree to one then the NRL will oblige.

      Seems another “game plan” of the Dragons failed here as they probably felt the Storm would suffer more after coming back from freezing England.

      • Roar Guru

        March 11th 2013 @ 10:52am
        Bazzio said | March 11th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        It’s hard to see what the problem with player wellbeing is. If anyone needed a breather, it was the Dragons! I’m yet to see the likes of Slater, Cronk, Widdop, or Smith even look tired, let alone exhausted during a game.

    • March 11th 2013 @ 1:09pm
      Redback said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

      Dragons bottom four new coach need apply

      • March 11th 2013 @ 1:52pm
        Charles NSW said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

        It is absolutely ridiculous to sack a coach so early in the season. He has been given a job to do with the players that he has and must be given a chance to do so. His main problem is his halves combination. Like so many other coaches who have gone through the same problem. If he fails to address the ½ back position there will no doubt be many more calling for his resignation. If that happens then they will need to step up Steve Folkes who may be able to do the job admirably.

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