Bennett era nears end at Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett era nears end at Dragons

By David Beniuk 08/09/2011 05:56:54 PM Comments (0)

The Wayne Bennett era started with a 17-16 defeat at the hands of Melbourne in 2009, a result that convinced St George Illawarra they could mix it with the very best.

Now the Dragons believe another more recent reverse to the Storm will prove just as pivotal.

It may have marked the fifth straight loss for the defending premiers but the 8-6 scoreline - and the manner in which the Dragons acquitted themselves at AAMI Park - convinced players they'd turned the corner.

And with a loss this weekend to the Wests Tigers spelling the end to the Bennett era if other results go against the Dragons, the club is understandably keen to reproduce the kind of form they believed help them stop the rot.

"We're happy with the way we turned it around down in Melbourne, we defended really well against a good attacking side down there," hooker Dean Young told reporters on Thursday.

What followed were wins over the Warriors and Penrith, and the return of some hope the Dragons could become the first side to win back-to-back premierships since Bennett-coached Brisbane in 1992-93 and 1997-98 (including a Super League title).

It's a far cry from when Bennett took the helm of a side that had scraped into the finals and bowed out in week one in 2008.

Bennett's NRL record at the Dragons stands at 51 wins, 25 losses and a draw - 66 per cent of matches won, including the 32-8 grand final win over the Sydney Roosters.

In February, he led the club to a 21-15 World Club Challenge victory over English powerhouse Wigan.

Whether his stay ends with a bark or a whimper, Bennett will take up a multi-million dollar deal to work for Newcastle owner Nathan Tinkler.

Following him there will be ex-Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd, who a Dragons teammate once described as being "a bit of a mercenary".

International centre Mark Gasnier, who admitted to feeling like a Johnny-come-lately when he returned midseason from rugby union in the premiership year, will retire.

Young said the end of the ride was yet to dawn on the players.

"It's trying to enjoy the journey we've had together," he said.

"It's been a wonderful three years and at some stage it's going to have to end and it's going to end hopefully in four weeks' time.

"It's about enjoying the moment."

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