Dragons aim to bounce back in Brisbane - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons aim to bounce back in Brisbane

By Steve Jancetic 14/09/2009 04:45:29 PM Comments (0)

A flaw in the NRL's McIntyre system may ultimately prove a blessing in disguise for besieged minor premiers St George Illawarra, with the Dragons to face a Brisbane side yet to win a finals game at Suncorp Stadium.

The Broncos are none from six in finals at the spiritual home of Queensland rugby league, a run of outs which stretches all the way back to a 14-8 loss to Canberra in 1995.

Included in the tale of woe is a 20-4 loss to the Dragons during Brisbane's premiership-winning 2006 campaign, that result one of six wins from seven matches for the joint-venture at Suncorp Stadium.

Asked about the Dragons' imposing record at 'The Cauldron', skipper Ben Hornby admitted playing at the famed venue acted as an inspiration to opposition sides.

"Any time you get to run out in front of 40-50,000 people it's a big thing - it definitely spurs the other team on," Hornby said at the Dragons recovery on Monday.

"We enjoy playing up there - obviously it's a great atmosphere and the crowd's big and the Broncos are a good team that you want to play well against - this week should be no different."

But different it will be, with the Dragons facing the ignominy of becoming the first minor premiers since Canterbury in 1993 to bow out of the finals without winning a game.

In the last 30 years, just four minor premiers - Canterbury in 1993, South Sydney in 1989, Cronulla in 1988, and Easts in 1981 - have been bundled out of the finals in straight sets.

The Dragons were handed the trip across the border thanks to a quirk in the McIntyre system, which sees sides re-ranked after the opening week of finals, with the red-and whites going down to eighth-placed Parramatta 25-12 on Sunday.

Hornby denied the Dragons would have to re-invent their gameplan in a bid to stay in contention.

"I thought we weren't too far off the mark to be honest," Hornby said of the Eels loss.

"We just didn't take those opportunities when we had them. We just have to execute better than what we did.

"It's worked for us all year that style of play and we won't be changing that."

Just as the Warriors did in 2008, the Eels now enjoy home-ground advantage in week two up against a Gold Coast side which finished the regular season in third place.

The scenario has sparked calls for the system to be dumped in favour of the AFL model, which allows all top four sides a guaranteed second chance in week one and gives home ground advantage in week two to teams from the top four.

For a Parramatta side which has yet to beat the latest incarnation of the Gold Coast in three attempts, homeground advantage is huge considering the Titans have lost just twice at Skilled park all year, including Saturday night's thrilling 40-32 loss to the Broncos.

But home ground advantage or not, the Eels are adamant the Titans will be no walkover, despite bookies giving them little hope of going all the way after they blew out to $26 to win the premiership.

"They didn't get third for no reason," Eels centre Joel Reddy said.

"They beat us during the year up there and I don't think we've even beaten the Titans before so it's a big challenge for us."

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