Eels, Dragons confident despite problems - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels, Dragons confident despite problems

By Steve Jancetic 22/02/2010 08:29:48 AM Comments (0)

Their playing stocks may have taken a battering but NRL premiership heavyweights St George Illawarra and Parramatta claim their confidence levels remain healthy despite indifferent trial performances over the weekend.

Both clubs were left sweating on the results of scans with Eels backrower Ben Smith suffering a suspected fractured cheekbone in his side's 32-12 loss to Penrith on Saturday night.

The prognosis appears more dire for new Dragons recruit Peni Tagive, whose shocking run with injuries continued as he suffered a suspected torn cruciate ligament in the 16-14 win over Canterbury at WIN Stadium.

Injuries have limited Tagive to just eight first grade appearances since 2008, including just two games last year when his season was cut short by a shoulder reconstruction.

The Dragons are adamant their attack won't need a similar overhaul despite Wayne Bennett's first-choice line-up failing to score a point against the Bulldogs.

The red and whites had all the ball during the opening 40 minutes, but the likes of Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby and Test winger Brett Morris were unable to engineer any action on the scoreboard.

Instead it was left to 2009 Toyota Cup player of the year Beau Henry and halves partner Kyle Stanley - the younger brother of Melbourne centre Chase Stanley - to get the Dragons back into the game after they were down 14-4 midway through the second period.

Despite the scoreless first half, Soward said the Dragons attack was better placed than at the same stage last year.

"The first three rounds last year everyone was writing about our attack saying it wasn't going anywhere and you saw (against the Bulldogs) we created opportunities," Soward said.

"Last year we were probably a little bit off the pace and more worried about our defence and the attack took a while to get going.

"We showed some good signs ... in the end it is a trial, we don't want to show all our plays, we want to keep some in the bag for when we play the real stuff.

"Hopefully we get that fine-tuned for round one."

Premiership favourites the Eels were expected to do it easy against a Panthers side missing Test quartet Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis, Michael Jennings and Trent Waterhouse, as well as energetic fullback Jarrod Sammut.

While their cause wasn't helped by injuries to Smith, Daniel Mortimer (head gash) and Dally M player of the year Jarryd Hayne (sternum), the Eels failed to match the Panthers for enthusiasm, though coach Daniel Anderson said his side remained on track for the season proper.

"You want them to trial to get a bit of fluency," Anderson said.

"We've got some new players at the club, we need to find a dynamic that suits us.

"As a club, we're probably mentally preparing for March 12 (the season opener), rather than tonight."

Willie Mason made his North Queensland debut as the Cowboys went down to the Warriors 28-6 in Cairns while Gold Coast beat South Sydney 28-22 in Coffs Harbour.

On Sunday night new signing Todd Carney came up with a personal haul of 16 points courtesy of a try and six goals as he floated between fullback and five-eighth in the Sydney Roosters' 28-10 win over Wests Tigers at the SFS.

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