Storm meeting could awaken Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm meeting could awaken Dragons

Steve Jancetic and Wayne Heming 15/08/2011 06:07:39 PM Comments (0)

Strange as it may seem, Friday night's NRL blockbuster against ladder leaders Melbourne could be just spark to ignite St George Illawarra's stalled title defence.

The Dragons' 2011 campaign has hit a wall with seven losses from their past ten matches, the one-time premiership favourites now on the fourth line of betting with bookmakers behind top three sides Melbourne, Manly and Brisbane.

They now go up against a Storm side having won eleven on the trot and if ever there was a contest guaranteed to fire up the Dragons, it's the AAMI Park battle.

The most worrying aspect for the red and white faithful is that four of the losses during their slide have been against sides outside the top eight, with Sunday's 20-12 loss to the struggling Sydney Roosters a new low.

But despite skipper Ben Hornby admitting their NRL rivals are "smelling a bit of blood in the water", the sides likely to go up against the premiers in the finals are steering clear of writing off the Dragons.

It could be seen as title contenders not wanting to prod the sleeping colossus, but there is a belief the big end of season could bring out their best.

"They're one of the teams you wouldn't want to run into in the finals," said Broncos coach Andrew Griffin.

"They've all been there before.

"If they get their stuff together over the next two or three weeks, which I'm sure they'll be trying to do, they're still the reigning premiers and the same team this time last year that nobody could beat."

Central to that thinking is the fact that during their slump - which has stretched into a third month - the games in which the Dragons have performed best have been those carrying a bit of hype.

The two wins over that stretch came against Manly in a top-of-the-table clash and in the southern Sydney derby against a Cronulla side threatening to make a run at the top eight.

Of the remaining losses, they were without a swag of State of Origin representatives in going down to Newcastle, while Brisbane and the Wests Tigers took until the final minutes to secure victories.

Having been the benchmark for the best part of three seasons, it seems the Dragons need that extra motivation of going up against a title challenge.

"They'll find their form again, they've obviously lost some games and they're down on their form but knowing the Dragons they'll pick that up over the next couple of weeks," Tigers lock Chris Heighington said.

The team best poised to take advantage of the Dragons continuing their slump all the way to September are South Sydney.

The Rabbitohs have won four of their past five to be just two points out of the top eight and skipper Michael Crocker did his best to plant a few more seeds of doubt in the minds of the premiers.

"I'm really not sure what's happening there, they're obviously down on confidence," Crocker said.

"I think they've actually got a pretty tough road in so I think they need to turn things around quickly otherwise they might find themselves slipping out quite fast."

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