Not only was it the perfect start for the St George Illawarra Dragons, it was also the perfect start for new recruit Gareth Widdop, who was influential in the club’s 44-24 win over the Wests Tigers.
Having a hand in 4 tries for the club in their 20-point win, his solid display prompted a legend halfback – one Peter Sterling – to say, “he thinks he’s Johnathan Thurston”.
On the game itself, it was the Tigers who burst out of the blocks as they raced out to a 12-0 lead after just 10 minutes.
After that point, however, everything went downhill. Tigers players lost concentration, errors started creeping into their game regularly and they failed to create opportunities or muster up some much needed momentum.
As a result, the Dragons pounced and did so with a vengeance. They laid on the tries and ended up scoring a total of 9 tries in their convincing win.
To further complicate matters for the Tigers, prop Aaron Woods was put on report for high contact.
What disappointed Tigers coach Mick Potter the most, was his side’s errant display and lack of last-tackle options.
“It was a disappointing second half. We were right in the game and some of our last play options were poor. And they rolled us down the field. [It was a] disappointing performance in the second half,” he said.
“I thought we were looking alright up until halftime. We had a couple of lapses, I could see that. But I thought we were looking alright. In the second half, when the other rolled down the field after some poor last plays… and to hand the ball over on play one â€“ you’re entitled to be disappointed in that.”
With recent rule changes to the restart rule, Tigers captain Robbie Farah knows how crucial that aspect is – but knows the Tigers just could not capitalise on it.
“[It] definitely gives you more opportunities and it definitely burns the defence up,” he said.
“When you’ve got to first of all get in transition, get back on side quickly, and then make seven in a row, it does become difficult.
“And as I said, we probably came up with a few too many of those today. It’s so crucial you get them right and we didn’t do that.”
What pleased Dragons coach Steve Price the most is the nature in which his side scored their points and their fluidity in attack whilst doing so.
“I was just happy with how the boys rebounded after what happened a couple of weeks ago,” said Price.
“Always had the belief and the confidence in the playing group to get the result we got today and it’s only moving forward from here.”
3. Gareth Widdop
2. Tyson Frizell
1. James Tedesco