They say that defence wins you football games, and ultimately NRL premierships, and if it were up to Dragons coach Wayne Bennett, he would have that adage down-pat, after his Dragons side muscled up in defence to deny the fast finishing Knights a victory.
In a true test of the Dragons defensive fortitude, they were forced to hold off a fast-finishing Knights outfit, after they led 20-6, before conceding two tries, but holding the Knights out, to eventually take the victory 20-18 at Ausgrid Stadium.
It was last years rock-solid defence that guided the Dragons to their first premiership as a joint venture, and shades of that defensive prowess are returning at the crucial moments.
“That’s what we built the team on and they continue to believe in it – it works for us,” Bennett said of his side’s defence.
For the Dragons, it is that newfound defensive prowess that has some people believing that they can be the first team since Brisbane, way back in 92-93 to win two successive premierships.
“It’s probably the things I’m driving right now, my past experiences, the benefits of having done all that means that you know what works and what doesn’t,” Bennett said of the difficulties in going back-to-back.
“We’re conscious of what does work and we failed other years when it didn’t work for us (as Brisbane coach) as well in 2000 and 2006.”
The game had its fair share of contentious calls, especially that of Darius Boyd’s try, the opener, in which Jason Nightingale, in contesting for the ball, took out Knights winger Wes Naiqama, thus clearing the way for Boyd to score.
“I’m a little bit bemused by it to be honest, I thought Wes was put in a dangerous position,” Knights coach Rick Stone said.
“I’m not sure whether that should have been a penalty as far as protecting the player’s safety is concerned.”
Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen, who was a key part of the Knights late surge, believed that with just a little bit more time on the clock, they would have gotten over the line once more to win.
“If there was five more minutes to go I think we would have got them,” Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen said.
Dally M Points
3 Jamie Soward
2 Ben Creagh
1 Jason Nightingale