Ugly works as effective for new Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ugly works as effective for new Dragons

By Steve Jancetic 22/02/2009 05:32:57 PM Comments (0)

Winning ugly hasn't traditionally been the St George Illawarra way but with new coach Wayne Bennett on board that looks set to change.

Gritty, grinding, scrappy - not words you would normally associate with a Dragons win, but that's exactly what they did at WIN Stadium on Saturday night as they took care of the Bulldogs 24-12.

While it was only a trial, trials are all the Dragons faithful have to go on as they search for signs of a harder edge under Bennett.

"We certainly recognise that it's one of our Achilles heals and we do want to reverse that a little bit - we're certainly getting the idea about it," Bennett said when asked about the Dragons' ability to grind out wins.

"We're far from perfect at it.

"Good footy teams do that, have to do that, and we want to be a good football team.

"I just like the way how in the first half when we got a little bit behind, we lost a bit of momentum and we fought our way back into the game."

Despite playing with eight new faces in their ranks, the Bulldogs looked slick in their first hit-out of the pre-season and were rewarded with an early four-pointer.

The Dragons were handing over cheap possession as their short kicking game failed to find its mark, yet still the home side refused to let their heads drop, as they may have in previous seasons.

Eventually they clicked with Mathew Head's passing game reviving memories of his stellar debut season in the red and white in 2004 as he set up three of his side's four tries.

The glory days of 04' must seem like light years away to Head, for the years since haven't been kind with injuries ravaging his diminutive frame.

But there was enough in Saturday night's performance to suggest that there are better days ahead for Head, despite Bennett admitting he was uncertain if the 26-year-old would be his No.1 halfback for the season opener.

"I can't say we're where we want to be and that we're (Head and Jamie Soward) the halves or anything like that, but we're working hard," Head said.

The knee injuries that had cruelled his last four campaigns didn't seem to hamper his play, but the limitations that come with back-to-back reconstructions were there for all to see when he snatched an intercept from Bulldogs prop Ben Hannant.

Out in the clear, Head simply couldn't get away from the defence, the opportunity saved by a looming Jason Nightingale in support.

"I'm not one of the fastest blokes in the NRL and I had Jason Nightingale there," Head said.

"He called for the ball, it would be pretty silly not to pass it to him."

The Dragons wrap up their pre-season against South Sydney in the annual Charity Shield match at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, Bennett admitting halfback candidate Ben Hornby was unlikely to return from a shoulder injury.

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