Dragons on brink of NRL finals exit - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons on brink of NRL finals exit

Steve Jancetic 10/09/2011 01:18:25 PM Comments (0)

Standing in the sheds following his side's NRL qualifying final defeat to Wests Tigers on Friday night, St George Illawarra backrower Ben Creagh was still struggling to come to grips with how it all went so wrong.

The Dragons showed glimpses of the side that stormed to last year's title during a dominant opening 40 minutes, where only a flukey Benji Marshall try and their own wastefulness prevented their 12-6 halftime lead being larger.

But the second stanza proved an abomination - the Tigers playing one of their best halves of football to leave the premiers on the brink of elimination as they outscored the Dragons 15-0 to run out 21-12 winners.

Their finals fate is now out of their hands, though the odds are still in their favour with two of the Warriors, North Queensland or Newcastle needing to spring upsets on Saturday night and Sunday to knock the Dragons out.

But the Dragons would also be nervous in the knowledge that the loser of the opening qualifying final the last two years has bowed out in the first weekend.

"It's not a fun wait, but it's out of our hands, there's nothing we can do now," Creagh said.

"We wanted to come here and win to take a bit of the pressure off to not have to worry about the rest of the weekend but that's how it is.

"It would be (a bad way to end the title defence), especially how we played the first half and especially with the confidence we came in with at halftime.

"To go out there and be under pressure, on the back foot straight away in the second half isn't how we play - it definitely wasn't the game to do it in."

Asked where it started to unravel, Creagh was to the point.

"Probably our first set of six in defence - we were under pressure straight away," he said.

"They kicked long into the corner and then we didn't get a good kick away and we were on the back foot straight away and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the second half then.

"They scored a few quick tries and put us under pressure a bit, we had to throw the ball around and we didn't come up with the goods.

"(Coach Wayne Bennett) said it's pretty much in the hands of the gods now, we're waiting for results.

"We've just got to hope and pray that we get an opportunity next week."

The loss could signal the end of an era at the Dragons, with Bennett and fullback Darius Boyd both headed to Newcastle in 2012 and centre Mark Gasnier to hang up the boots once this season's commitments come to an end.

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