Tag Archives: st george illawarra

Dragons Wake Up Call

It took former Dragon Josh Morris to provide the wake-up call that Wayne Bennett’s Saints outfit needed. The jump-ship Morris scored in the early minutes of last nights game as the Bulldogs went on an early onslaught.

But Benny’s Dragons were good enough to ride out the early storm and eventually get away with a 19-6 away win at ANZ Stadium in front of another massive Friday night crowd – just under 40,000.

The NRL might be feeling the pressure with the Melbourne Storm saga still ringing in their ears and now the legal action, but otherwise, the quality of the NRL footy and of course the crowds have been amazing.

Almost 80,000 watched the Friday nights games live – with Sydney and Brisbane crowds turning out in big numbers to watch their teams go around in flagship games.

With a Bulldogs side still trying to prove itself for 2010 and a Dragons side trying to recover from a hiccup last week – it was the ideal setting. But 80 minutes later, we know that the Bulldogs still have a long way to go before they are serious top flight challengers this year and the Dragons remain a well-oiled machine when they have the desire.

The Bulldogs threw everything at the Dragons early. They came out the more eager and dominated – but apart from the Morris try, the Dogs wouldn’t get over the line again.

The Saints held tight, were patient – and were the men for the job to grind out a win.

The timing was ideal, with so many players throwing their hands up for Origin – there were plenty interested in old fox Matt Cooper and his battle with former Dragon Josh Morris, throw in young-bull Jamaal Idris – and you have a contest within the contest.

Morris got the early strike, Idris had some bone rattling defence – but ultimately, it was old-man Coops who proved he still has attacking qualities. Noted for his near League best defence, Cooper showed he has plenty of petrol left in the tanks after an impressive try – his attack just as good as his younger opponents.

But the underrated Ben Creagh deserves plenty of accolades for the red and whites. He remains such a hardworking forward, but always seems to pop up for tries and at critical times in big games. He’s a big match player and one that the Origin selectors should look hard at.

The Saints host the Raiders next week and will like their chances there, but the Bulldogs are off to Penrith in what will be a real tough clash for them.

The Bulldogs will be eager to secure a win next week, given the Broncos snapping at their heels on the ladder now and the Top 8 drifting away.

For the Dragons, they take even more comfort in the fact the Titans lost and they now sit as sole NRL ladder leaders.

Is Gaz Right for Dragons?

With Mark Gasnier set to rejoin the NRL, with a deal announcement expected before June 30 – will Gasnier still be a good fit for the Dragons? Or to put it another way, will the Dragons be a good fit for Gaz?

While CEO Peter Doubst is doing everything over at Kogarah to get Gasnier back into the fold, the truth is, much has changed at St George Illawarra since Gasnier left.

While Gaz has only been gone a year and a half, there have been a few personnel changes the likes of Jason Ryles, Justin Poore, Josh Morris and several others have departed – good mate and coach Nathan Brown is also long gone from the Dragons fold – in some ways its been a club rebuilt.

With new coach Wayne Bennett at the helm, the biggest change has been the culture. The belief is there and the responsibility isn’t falling on any one individual like it used to with Gaz or maybe Barrett in the old days.

This could work either way for Gasnier;

On a positive note – the newly forged Dragons are a defensive machine, winning the majority of their games and looking like good things for the NRL Premiership. They have a new seemingly much more positive culture and an enviable amount of depth in most positions. Much less pressure would fall on the shoulders of Gasnier as it used to do in previous years.

On the flipside – Gaz would have to earn his spot amongst hot competition. Younger, super confident backs in the form of Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale and Darius Boyd are all flying high. Any niggling injuries would surely see Gaz biding his team on the sidelines more quicker than in previous seasons. His good mate and former coach Nathan Brown is long gone and with Bennett at the helm it means that there wouldn’t be any selections favours for the former NSW centre.

What other options are available to Gasnier?

Some have suggested that the Newcastle Knights are the next option being considered by Gasnier and his management team. The Knights have room to move under the salary cap and would allow Gaz to escape the spotlight and pressure of Sydney to some extent.

However, at the Knights – Gasnier would instantly become a ‘marquee’ player and would get pressure in other forms. The location of Newcastle would either involve travel over long distances daily for training, or relocating to the the Steel Town – which wouldn’t be ideal given the sad family situation for Gaz and his partner’s father. Naturally they will want to be close to them in Sydney.

With the salary cap being so tight, apart from the Knights – there really doesn’t seem to be too many options open to Gaz at this stage. The Warriors do have a little room to move in their current situation, however moving over to NZ would certainly be out of the question for Gasnier.

The Raiders are another option, but again location proves a problem.

Most other clubs are seemingly up to their ears in salary cap quotas.

So it’s either his old club the Dragons with a whole new look and feel. Or the raw Knights, who may offer Gasnier the lower profile he has craved in recent times.

Given the pressing situation with his extended family, expect the Dragons to be favourites – regardless of the dollar figure in the short-term.