Dragons forwards leading the way: Brown - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons forwards leading the way: Brown

By Steve Jancetic 19/06/2008 07:01:44 PM Comments (0)

Having questioned their underbelly following a disappointing opening round loss, St George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown now credits his forward pack for leading the club's fight up the NRL ladder.

To the amazement of many around the league - including a vast majority of the club's diehard fans - the Dragons find themselves in sixth position heading into Friday night's clash with Penrith at ANZ Stadium.

All this after losing five of their first six matches, including a round one loss to Wests Tigers - following which Brown claimed there was a perception around the NRL that the Dragons pack wasn't too keen on getting involved in a lot of the hard yakka required to win games.

The first sign that perception was about to change came on Anzac Day against the Sydney Roosters.

Dragons props Jason Ryles and Justin Poore manhandled the opposition forwards that afternoon, a Roosters pack that would only a few weeks later provide four players for the opening State of Origin fixture.

"That's probably been the most pleasing thing, the commitment and the toughness the guys play with," Brown said.

"A lot of the games earlier in the year we thought we were trying pretty hard but we were letting ourselves down in areas.

"The forwards, in particular from the Roosters onwards, probably haven't waited for the fight, they've probably taken it to other sides."

And the results have followed, with an unlucky one point loss to Parramatta their only defeat since, the Dragons rising from second last to be just four points off the competition lead.

"If you can win four or five in a row you do climb the ladder quickly," Brown said.

"(But) when you're on 16 points and you look at the table there's a fair few other sides there with you on 16 and there's also a fair few on 14 or 12.

"Within a week in this competition things can change dramatically."

Critics claim the Dragons' climb up the ladder has simply come as a result of them taking advantage of a favourable draw, with wins over powerhouses Melbourne and Brisbane coming when the opposition had been ravaged by Origin commitments.

That friendly run looks like continuing with the Panthers to be minus key duo Luke Priddis (knee) and Tony Puletua (ribs) on Friday night after they went down against the Roosters last weekend.

Penrith are also expected to lose centre Michael Jennings ahead of Friday night's match due to an ankle injury, but Dragons skipper Mark Gasnier said his side was wary of underestimating the injury-hit Panthers.

"It will go against you if you start to think it," Gasnier said.

"The way the comp is these days, it's just too competitive - you can't go in with a lackadaisical mindset and let it get to your preparation."

Penrith coach Matthew Elliott named Keith Peters and Paul Aiton as his hooker pairing with Priddis out, but it is believed young Toyota Cup star Masada Iosefa may be handed his NRL debut ahead of Aiton.

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