Dragons falter again on big stage - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons falter again on big stage

By Steve Jancetic, Melissa Woods and Guy Hand 03/04/2010 10:39:39 AM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra's ability to perform in big matches is again open to scrutiny after the Dragons' attack relived the nightmare of last year's dismal finals campaign with a lacklustre display in the Good Friday blockbuster against Melbourne.

In a match hyped up as a litmus test for both sides, the Dragons failed to find the extra gear the Storm easily slipped into as the reigning premiers reminded all and sundry of their undeniable talent with a 17-4 win at Etihad Stadium.

Just as they did in last year's finals series - when they became the first minor premiers to go out in back to back games since the advent of the McIntyre finals system - the Dragons suffered as their attack mis-fired on the biggest stage.

The prolific left-edge of Brett Morris, Matt Cooper and Ben Creagh which had terrorised defences over the opening three rounds was kept quiet by the Storm.

With their favoured channel shut down, halves Ben Hornby and Jamie Soward were again found lacking when it came to alternatives, leaving the red and white faithful pondering the possibility that another regular season of domination may not be enough come the business end of the season.

The Dragons though were refusing to panic, claiming there was still plenty of football to be played before September.

"I don't know how big an occasion (it was), we're only four rounds into the competition," Dragons coach Wayne Bennett said.

"(Melbourne are) always a well-prepared, committed side and their results of four grand finals in four years in the modern game is certainly some achievement.

"They're on track to be the team to beat again this year, it's a great credit to them."

Asked whether the loss would affect the team's confidence after three dominant performances to open the season, skipper Ben Hornby offered an emphatic "No."

"It's not a worry for us," Hornby said.

While the Dragons may not be concerned, they will be should they be drawn to meet the Storm in Melbourne during the finals, with the red and whites not having tasted victory in the Victorian capital this century - a run of outs stretching back to September 1999.

St George Illawarra return home next Friday for a clash against Brisbane at WIN Stadium, while the Storm - who were installed as outright $4.50 premiership favourites minutes after the win - travel to face the only other unbeaten side heading into this weekend's round of matches in Gold Coast.

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