Dragons bandwagon bursting at the seams - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons bandwagon bursting at the seams

By Steve Jancetic 13/04/2009 09:04:17 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra's emergence as a premiership threat escalated to a new level of delirium on Monday after bookmakers installed the Dragons as new title favourites.

The red and white bandwagon - already hailing new coach Wayne Bennett as the messiah - ushered on a new batch of believers after the Dragons made it four from five with a 22-8 win over Parramatta on Friday night.

It's a start unmatched in the joint venture's short history, with the Bulldogs win over South Sydney on Monday night leaving the Dragons on top of the table at the end of the round for the first time ever.

Try keeping a lid on this one Mr Bennett.

The master coach was back at the office Monday morning as he guided his troops through a gruelling session in the pouring rain in Wollongong.

No fanfare, no change to the routine as Bennett kept himself hidden under the hood of his jacket, but even the players could sense something was building.

"There's something happening, we're sitting up the top of the table, but it's only early so we're not patting ourselves on the back," veteran winger Wendell Sailor said.

"At the moment, this team's done nothing yet. It's round five and we're going alright but that can easily turn so we're not being big heads here.

"This competition's pretty open ... Manly yesterday showed they're still going to be thereabouts."

The Sea Eagles put their premiership defence back on track with a 23-10 win over Wests Tigers, but it wasn't enough to halt the flow of support for the Dragons.

The win over the Eels saw bookmakers Centrebet and TABSportsbet both thrust the Dragons onto the first line of betting at $6.50 along with Brisbane and Melbourne, but Sportsalive.com pushed the red and whites into outright favouritism at $6.

Manly have slipped to fourth favourites after opening the season with four straight losses.

"It's good pressure for us I think, but it's something that we don't buy into too much now," Sailor said of the premiership favouritism.

"I've been in teams that are premiership favourites but I like what we're doing here.

"There's no big heads here ... Wayne keeps us down to earth and makes sure that we're just thinking about the job every week.

"We've started off well, but if it's a sprint, we've only just come out of the blocks and we're going alright.

"It's quite easy to listen to what everyone's saying and people jumping on the bandwagon, but at the end of the day, if you don't come up and perform every week, you get knocked off.

"Teams now are going to want to beat us, there's going to be an extra bit of pressure now."

The Dragons have been using their defence to put pressure on their NRL rivals, conceding just a tick over ten points a game so far this season.

It's a hallmark of Bennett's coaching from his days at Brisbane - get the defence right and the rest will follow - Sailor admitting he wasn't that surprised at the immediate impact his former Broncos mentor had made at the club.

"Not really, especially with Wayne," he said.

"He demands respect, he demands his players play for 80 minutes and he wants you to play with desire and heart.

"That's always been Wayne's philosophy with football teams.

"(The defence is) more so mental - we've trained hard enough for it.

"Wayne's not big on wrestling, he's big on hitting and I think our forwards have stiffened some packs up.

"But as we know, if we start patting ourselves on the back, that's when you get beaten in this competition."

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