Just a few weeks ago, it appeared that the St George Illawarra Dragons were a beaten side and struggling in terms of cohesion and attacking play.
Fast forward to tonight and after a string of consecutive wins, they find themselves with renewed confidence and optimism on the back of solid coaching by interim head coach, Paul McGregor.
The game had added meaning for the Dragons organisation, as they had the chance to remember one of their greatest ever players and rugby league Immortal Reg Gasnier pre-game.
It was a topsy-turvy clash with both sides enjoying periods of dominance and although their was a late flurry by the Cowboys, it came too late, as 12,082 fans lay witness to another Dragons win.
The hero of the match and a fan favourite of many Dragons supporters was Jason Nightingale, who recorded his first ever NRL hat-trick with some acrobatic finishes.
It was class all-round for the Dragons, though, as swift back-line plays and fast-paced attack had the Cowboys on the ropes at some points in the game.
Controlling the ruck was their forte early on and it allowed them to build momentum, before the Cowboys began to wrestle back momentum of their own.
Knowing full well that his side lost – albeit narrowly – there were no excuses from Cowboys coach Paul Green, who knows that his side has to be better.
“We can use that as an excuse but at the end of the day the game was there for us to win, so I’m disappointed with the result but at the same time, I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Green told reporters following the game.
“We’re a bit under the pump at the moment. There were some courageous efforts out there and great performances but there were a few things we didn’t do when we needed to.
“Unfortunately I’m in here talking about a loss that easily could have been a win and under the circumstances, probably the best win of the year but it wasn’t to be.”
With the glaring proposition of having to win six of their remaining eight games to make the finals – a race-to-the-finish feat the Cowboys have found themselves in before – stand-in captain Ashton Sims believes they can do it.
“We’re going forward, man,” Sims said.
“You can talk about how many players are missing out but at the end of the day there are wins and losses and we should have won tonight.”
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