Smith sees shades of '07 in Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smith sees shades of '07 in Dragons

By Joe Barton 16/09/2010 02:22:04 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne captain Cam Smith believes St George Illawarra will have learned plenty from last year's NRL finals capitulation and says the minor premiers "will be the ones to take it out".

Smith skippered the Melbourne Storm in 2006 when the minor premiers were shocked by underdogs Brisbane in the grand final, before they responded to thrash Manly 34-8 in the following decider.

Similarly the Dragons, despite being the best team all season, were sent packing in 2009 after losing both finals matches.

But in an ominous warning for the remaining finalists, Smith sees similarities between Melbourne's victorious 2007 team and the relentless charge from the Dragons this season.

The Dragons are already through to the preliminary final, where they will face the winner of Canberra and Wests Tigers, and looked in threatening form when they dismantled Manly 28-0 in week one of the finals.

"I think what happened to them last year was what happened to us in `06," Smith told AAP.

"They were the best side last year, no doubt about that, and at the end they just didn't take that extra step in the finals.

"They just continued the way they played through the normal season.

"(Against Manly) they put in a clinical effort and got a really good result.

"(I know) they were playing a depleted Manly side, but sometimes that can be a disadvantage too, you can think you're just going to turn up and win the match."

Having led the now disgraced Melbourne Storm to four successive grand finals, Smith knows better than most how to deal with pressure and expectation - two qualities which have been heaped on the Dragons this season.

"I think expectation is a good thing," he explained.

"As long as you have expectations of yourself, rather than trying to live up to everyone else's expectations (it is fine), I'm sure they'd already have that with (coach) Wayne (Bennett)."

And under the guidance of the game's most successful coach, Smith expects the Dragons to have learned from their mistakes last year.

And he says if they can get past their next opponents, the winner of Friday night's Canberra and Wests Tigers clash, they deserve to win the title.

"They would've learned a massive lesson from last year when they went out in straight sets," Smith added.

"This year I think they know that finals is a different game and they need to go another gear.

"But they're in a really good position now where they've put in a really good performance, they get the week off, they get the chance to give the boys who have bumps and bruises a rest and I think they're primed for a grand final win.

"If they continue to build like they have been all year I think they'll take it out."

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