Lang puts house on Dragons title - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lang puts house on Dragons title

By Ben Horne 05/09/2010 10:48:37 PM Comments (0)

South Sydney coach John Lang declared he'd put his house on a St George Illawarra premiership after the Dragons extinguished the Rabbitohs NRL finals hopes before they even got off the ground.

Canterbury's 30-24 defeat of Manly earlier on Sunday gave Souths a golden opportunity to sneak into eighth spot in the final match of the year if they could beat the Dragons by five points or more.

When St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett announced he was resting key players Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dean Young and Jeremy Smith for the match, it almost seemed as if a fairytale playoff berth was gift-wrapped for the Bunnies.

But a Ben Creagh hat-trick destroyed the Rabbitohs in the first half and the Dragons cruised to a comfortable 38-24 victory which gives the barely breathing Sea Eagles one last hope against the red-V at Kogarah next Sunday.

Souths forward Dave Taylor said waiting to see if they were playing for anything in the evening made it the most nerve-wracking day of his career.

Lang admitted his side was overawed by the sudden-death final type pressure of the game and with the NRL's betting scandal put to the side, the Souths mentor innocently said the Dragons deserve their short-priced favouritism.

"I'd be putting my money on them if I was a gambler, they're a top class professional side," Lang said.

"I think even though we weren't great tonight I thought they showed a bit of real spark and obviously it's their big challenge, they're here again, they went bang bang straight out last year but I think you'd be losing some money if you back them to do the same thing this year.

"I think they deserve to be favourites to win the comp and they probably deserve to win it, but it doesn't work like that you've still got to do it on the day."

Minor premiers St George Illawarra proudly paraded the J.J. Giltinan Shield before their fans for the second straight year, however they're confident the future will read differently this time around after they were bundled out of the finals last season.

Creagh was enormous for the Dragons in Sunday's win and said he's learnt plenty from last season and his Origin woes for NSW earlier this year.

"It was pretty hard for me missing out on that third game but I knew I didn't deserve to be there because I didn't play well enough and that's fair enough. I went back to the drawing board and worked on things that when I'm doing well I'm playing well," he said.

"I do I think this time last year we were a little bit scrappy but the last couple of games heading into the finals series we've been playing really well and we've lifted our intensity.

"Finals footy is another step up and I think we all know that now.

"Manly's going to be desperate next week and we'll be just as desperate."

The Sea Eagles have been ravaged by injuries and judiciary worries, with the likes of Anthony Watmough, Kieran Foran and Jamie Lyon struggling for fitness and Steve Matai in all sorts of trouble after being put on report.

However, captain Jason King is confident Manly can pull themselves off the canvas with the finals being a different ball game.

"We can regroup easily, we will come back into training, knuckle down and look ahead to the finals ... and do our best," he said.

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