Dragons the team to beat, say skippers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons the team to beat, say skippers

By Steve Jancetic 06/09/2010 05:42:07 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra's poor finals record hasn't been enough to deter opposition captains from nominating the Dragons as the team to beat for this year's NRL title.

The runaway minor premiers were the overwhelming choice in a poll of the team leaders participating in this year's finals series.

Five captains - Wests Tigers' Robbie Farah, Sydney Roosters' Braith Anasta, Canberra's Alan Tongue, Manly's Jamie Lyon and Gold Coast's Ashley Harrison - standing in for injured Titans skipper Scott Prince - plumped for the red and whites to end their premiership drought.

"They've shown that all year in how consistent and ruthless their performances have been," Tongue said of the Dragons' favouritism.

"It's hard to single out (a dangerman for them), across the board they're just so strong and play such consistent footy."

Other than their seemingly perpetual ability to crumble under pressure at the business end of the season, there appear few chinks in the Dragons' armour with their entire squad fit, rested and in form.

"You look at last night, before the game I thought Souths would win with St George having five blokes out and they didn't even look like winning," Anasta said.

"The Dragons were just dominant and didn't look like they missed their five players and they were key players."

Warriors skipper Simon Mannering and Penrith veteran Petero Civoniceva both nominated their qualifying finals opponents - Gold Coast and Canberra respectively - as the teams to beat, the pair unwilling to look beyond the opening week of the finals.

Dragons leader Ben Hornby also gave the nod to the Raiders, the green machine having had the wood on St George Illawarra who have won only one of the past 13 matches between the two sides.

"Canberra's the biggest challenger at the moment," Hornby said.

"They've won eight of the last nine - they're playing the best footy at the moment."

The Warriors and Titans both received two selections as a dark horse for the premiership, Gold Coast's nomination surprising given they managed to finish the regular season in fourth spot.

Tigers' playmaker Benji Marshall and Dragons No.1 Darius Boyd each got two ticks as the opposition player to be most feared in the finals, with Canberra ace Josh Dugan and Roosters five-eighth Todd Carney also pinpointed.

The captains could not split Carney and Boyd for who will win the Dally M Medal, to be announced at the State Theatre in Sydney on Tuesday night.

NRL finals team captain's poll with Ben Hornby (St George Illawarra), Petero Civoniceva (Penrith), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Braith Anasta (Sydney Roosters), Alan Tongue (Canberra), Jamie Lyon (Manly) and Ashley Harrison (stand in, Gold Coast):

1. Who is the team to beat for this year's title?

Dragons - five votes

Raiders - two

Titans - one

2. Who is the darkhorse for this year's title?

All of them - three

Warriors - two

Titans - two

Raiders - one

3. Who is the opposition player to watch in the finals?

Benji Marshall - two

Darius Boyd - two

Todd Carney - one

Josh Dugan - one

Every team has one - one

4. Who in your side could be a dangerman in the finals:

St George Illawarra: Darius Boyd

Penrith: Luke Lewis

Wests Tigers: Benji Marshall

Gold Coast: Kevin Gordon

Warriors: Manu Vatuvei

Sydney Roosters: Frank Paul Nuuausala

Canberra: Terry Campese

Manly: Trent Hodkinson

5. Who will win the Dally M medal:

Darius Boyd - four

Todd Carney - four

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