Bennett wants to maintain Dragons' fire - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett wants to maintain Dragons' fire

By Adrian Warren 08/08/2009 02:54:21 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett hopes to preserve the confidence of his high-flying Dragons as they prepare their run into the NRL finals with a clash against bogey side Canberra.

The Dragons pulled six points clear at the top after a comfortable 25-6 win over Penrith at CUA Stadium on Friday night.

With four rounds remaining the minor premiership appears theirs for the taking, especially given that each of those games is against teams currently outside the top eight.

However, the Dragons have won only one of their last 10 games against Canberra.

They have lost their six games in the national capital and haven't beaten the Raiders in Canberra for nine years.

"We look forward to Canberra next week, which is our bogey team down there, that's going to be another big challenge for us," Dragons' five-eighth Jamie Soward told AAP.

Bennett said the most important thing for his side over the next month was to play consistently and not have their confidence dented.

"The next month is about not losing confidence in ourselves by having a really bad performance and not putting in on a given night or afternoon," Bennett told reporters.

"We might lose a game in the next month, we might lose a couple, but it's not such an issue.

"The issue is just us making sure that we don't do any great damage to ourselves and destroy our confidence."

The laconic coach gave little away about how he was feeling in the lead up to the finals as he engaged in some byplay with the media in his post game conference.

Asked if he was feeling nervous in the leadup to the finals Bennett replied: "I'm not nervous, if you are back in the middle of the pack you are nervous."

When asked how he was feeling Bennett retorted "how do I look?"

Asked if he was relaxed, Bennett said: "You work that out, I can't tell you anything."

He wouldn't rule out resting players over the next month and stressed it was important that they weren't flogged on the training track between now and the end of the season.

Soward, who broke open a close game with a trademark 75 metre dash for a try, consolidated his position as the competition's leading point scorer.

His 13 point haul lifted him to 203 for the season, 21 clear of Bulldogs veteran Hazem El Masri, who is in the final season of his illustrious career.

"I can see Hazem, being his last year, probably finishing in front of me and that would be a great achievement for him, how good a player he has been for the game and how good an ambassador he is," Soward told AAP.

"I'm not too worried about it. I set myself my bigger targets than finishing leading point scorer."

Soward's try apart, another highlight for the Dragons was the two-try return to first grade of New Zealand forward Jeremy Smith, following a three month absence due to foot and ankle injuries.

"It was probably the best way I could get back on the field and help the boys out," Smith said of his brace.

With Smith supplementing an already powerful back row contingent, Bennett said he would look at rotating his players over the last four rounds to get the right mix.

"We've got a lot of depth, a lot of good players missing out and if you're not doing your job, you are going to get hooked," Smith said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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