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Dragons fire is out

31 Jul 11 08:54
It hurts me to say it because I'm one of the biggest fans of the St George Illawarra Dragons, but after watching them at WIN Stadium today on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon I've come to the realisation that the Dragons CAN NOT win back-to-back Premierships in 2011.

In consecutive weeks they have been cruelled by Canberra and Souths, two teams in the bottom half of the ladder and the Dragons weaknesses have been exposed for all to see.

The first thing the Dragons have lost is the killer instinct.  After rushing to a 20-0 lead after 20 minutes at home against a lethargic Souths side, the opportunity was there to put the helpless bunnies to the sword and a 50 point flogging was on the cards.  However, instead of driving home the advantage the Dragons started kicking defensively for the line and throwing silly passes.

The second thing they've lost is their discipline.  You could forgive a couple of crazy passes when winning 20-0, but the number of errors and general brain explosions which bombed try-scoring opporuntities or gave Souths advantage is testament to their poor state-of-mind. 

Next up is their defensive structure.  Earlier in the year the "red brick wall" was the pride of the league, but now the back 3 are struggling to co-ordinate and defensive lapses are becoming commonplace.  You could forgive this due to the disruption the team has had from a changing line-up during the rep season, and while I expect it will improve over the next few weeks there are some serious chinks in the armour which have been exploited.  They are really missing Jeremy Smith and Neville Costigan who are excelling at their new clubs.

Finally, and most importantly, the Dragons have lost their composure.  Normally the team is confident, focused and love nothing more than leading from the front and strangling the live out of teams in an arm-wrestle competition, but now they are looking like a nervous team who can't close out a match.  The last two games the Dragons have been in front and choked in spectacular fashion.  Today it was a kick-off that was allowed to go out at the 5 metre mark with only minutes remaining.  This lack of composure, more than the points above, will cost dearly when the finals begin.  The Dragons may not even win a finals match this year and may well repeat their 2009 early exit.

It probably sounds like I'm just a jaded Dragons fan who's pissed off after a loss, but I know this team pretty well and there are times when you've got to listen to your head and not your heart.  As soon as the game was over I laid off a chunk of my pre-season position at 4.50, because I know that by the time the rest of the world watches the delayed channel 9 telecast and the post-game analysis sinks in they will drift even further. Sad
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