One win is a start, but it is a start that the Dragons will want to have made – with their win over rivals Cronulla, keeping the critics off of their back for at least one more week.
With both the Dragons and coach Steve Price coming under pressure in recent times by the media, Price said that the team was using that criticism as fuel to make a late season charge for a finals berth.
The finals berth is still on track, despite a contentious try to Dragons prop Trent Merrin, that ultimately sealed the game for the Dragons – with the Sharks losing streak in Wollongong continuing, a venue they have not won at, since 1989.
“Anyone who doubts our character and our spirit amongst our footy club certainly got their pants pulled down today,” Price said.
“You’re always hearing a lot of bad press about our footy club … (there’s) just a lot of negative stuff which has been happening over the last couple of weeks but we know what works.”
Price agrees that the criticism to an extent has been warranted, given the Dragons have the worst attack in the competition, but he believes his side is headed in the right direction.
“To a degree.
“There’s a lot of good things we’ve been doing but we’re big enough to overcome what’s been thrown at us.
“We certainly do (feed off it), definitely.”
The Dragons attack was more clinical and smoother than it has been in recent times, but despite that, they still managed to score just 18 points.
For Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, the try just before half-time was a kick in the guts for the Sharks.
“The try just before halftime was probably the nail in the coffin in the end,” Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said.
“I know what Todd was looking for.
“When you’ve got players like that who roll the dice, every now and again they’re going to come up cats (sic) eyes.”
The game was not without controversy however, with Flanagan fuming at the decision to award Merrin’s try, as well as a knock-on by one of his own players, Wade Graham.
“We just didn’t recover from those decisions,” Flanagan said.
The Dragons won the game without usual five-eighth Jamie Soward, as well as the man who replaced him in Kyle Stanley – with Stanley suffering a suspected torn ACL.
“You can’t underestimate the belief factor in a game of rugby league,” Dragons skipper Ben Hornby said.
“We weren’t perfect but we did enough things right to win the game.”