Dragons begin breathing fire - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons begin breathing fire

By Daniel Pace 16/02/2003 05:28:26 AM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra skipper Lance Thompson wants the Dragons to scare the life out of the opposition in the 2003 National Rugby League season.

They certainly started on the right foot as they wound back the clock seven years to drag out an "aggressive" defensive pattern which aided their 28-10 victory over South Sydney in the annual Charity Shield clash.

"I suppose the last couple of years we've been, not soft, but we haven't been aggressive, we haven't been scaring sides," said Thompson.

"I thought tonight, although the Rabbits probably weren't scared, we were up and in their face and forcing a lot of errors which was good for us."

Coach Nathan Brown revealed after the Aussie Stadium trial that the Dragons had reverted to a 1996 defensive pattern based on premiers Sydney Roosters' in-your-face style from last season.

It worked wonders as the Rabbitohs - with eight new faces in their starting line-up - looked lost in attack.

Coach Craig Coleman was able to take some positives out of the 20th Charity Shield match, despite his off-season buys failing to fire and the title being handed to the Dragons.

"I don't think there were too many clean breaks made on us ... but we were just lost with the ball," he said.

"The fact Willie (Peters) didn't play was the main cause but there were a lot of positives. I'm very happy with the way our blokes defended."

Chris Walker in particular made some clangers, the worst being a dropped ball from a good Shane Rigon pass in the 52nd minute when the former Bronco had a free run to the line.

The Rabbitohs had held the Shield because they won the last match prior to last year's 20-all draw when more than 36,800 watched the foundation club's re-entry into the game following a two-year absence.

This year the crowd was smaller - 20,834 - and the Souths fans would be disappointed if they believed the match would herald a revival after a poor 2002 season.

The Dragons - missing stars Trent Barrett, Jason Ryles and Shaun Timmins - will be pleased with the result in the lead-up to their NRL opener against Wests Tigers on March 15.

Winger Amos Roberts bagged 12 points for the Dragons, who led 16-6 at halftime and continued to put on the points in a lacklustre second half.

The Rabbitohs could only manage two tries - to winger Ahmad Bajouri and Wade McKinnon - and too many poor options in attack cost them.

The final indignity came in the 76th minute when Souths forward Justin Smith was sin-binned by referee Sean Hampstead for throwing the ball at former teammate Craig Stapleton.

And of course it wouldn't be a Charity Shield match without a dust-up - Dragons hooker Mark Riddell and Souths prop Paul Stringer providing the fireworks in the 53rd minute.

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