Pre-Season Prediction: 8th
Actual Finish: 15th
4 game win streak: After losing their opening two fixtures the Dragons would put together a four game win streak to reignite their season.
They would leave the Broncos, Knights, Dogs and Sea Eagles laying, including two one-point wins.
Corey Norman was slotting winners for fun, Vaughan and Frizell were leading a tough as nails pack and their defence was almost impenetrable in the final three games of this streak.
NSW Cup: This may sound like a backhanded compliment, and in a way it is, but the Dragons NSW Cup minor Premiership should bring top level success, in theory.
They had four players make the team of the year including young gun Tristan Sailor and the supremely talented Jackson Ford.
Adam Clune stared in the halves while Lachlan Timm bashed opposition defences from prop.
There SHOULD be at least two regular first graders for 2020 in those four. Ford and Sailor made their debuts this year and should build from that.
Jack de Belin: I actually didn’t want to mention this here but it had a hugely negative affect on the Dragons season.
We all know the story but the way the entire process dragged on, the Dragons should have focused elsewhere.
Hunt/Norman inconsistency: The Red Vs season was going to live or die based on the form of it’s three attacking stars.
When Widdop suffered a long-term injury, it was down to two; Ben Hunt and Corey Norman. Unfortunately, despite their undoubted talent, neither was able to produce quality with any consistency.
It’s easy enough to place blame on certain players and ignore other issues, but considering they’re both highly paid rep halves, neither lived up to the expectations.
Both will benefit from a settled off-season together. McGregor needs to commit to a combination and stick to it.
Coaching farce: I said a few weeks ago that too many clubs simply sack the coach as a quick fix. The Dragons are anti-that.
The McGregor years can be summed up by brilliant starts and horror finishes. 2019 was different only in that they forgot the good start.
I cannot explain how a supposed review was conducted and his name was not the main topic.
The Dragons even extended the embattled coach’s contract in April.
There is no more maligned coach in the game than McGregor and I understand the frustration of Dragons fans. Nothing changes.
Matt Dufty: I’ve avoided singling out players in these in the past but Dufty, for mine, was the most disappointing aspect of the Dragons 2019.
An absolute superstar in the making, Dufty was the great white, and red V, hope at Kogarah/The Gong.
Fast forward to an Origin period where his name was supposed to be mentioned and he’s playing in NSW Cup.
Truthfully thought McGregor didn’t give him a chance to settle in with his 300 personel and positional changes.
Star Player: Cameron McInnes
The bright spot in an otherwise dire season was the Dragons number 9.
He smashed the competition at the Dragons end of year awards, and rightfully so.
One of the most consistent dummy halves in the competition, McInnes lead from the front in every minute of every game in 2019.
He’s just under 180cm but plays like he’s 6 foot 6. His tackle on Bronson Xerri was the try saver of the season.
Season Grading: F
Not even the most positive fan of the Dragons could spin 2019 as anything other than a huge disaster.
The only team they finished over at the conclusion of the season legitimately would have struggled to play finals in the NSW Cup competition.
A team chock full of representative players and an experienced coach counted for very little when push came to shove.
It’s easy enough to blame the distraction of the Jack de Belin cases but every club has distractions, the Dragons just couldn’t overcome theirs.
An early injury to Gareth Widdop didn’t help but this is a side with an all rep forward pack, two rep halves and some of the games best young talent.
McGregor has to take another horror season on the chin and can count himself very lucky to be given 2020.
The Hunt/Norman combination didn’t work, Matt Dufty played his best footy in reserve grade and I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching the Dragons play.
2019 was a season of very few highlights and quite frankly there are no excuses.
A stacked roster, a passionate fan base, supposedly good administration.
Dragons fans spent more time signing petitions and drawing up protest signs than they did singing the team song.
Their only two wins across the final ten weeks of the season came against the Titans. That sums up the supposed “pride” shown in the jersey.
This will be a long and not so fun off-season, and so it should be.
With exactly zero signings for 2020, the wins are going to have to come from what they already have, sans Widdop.
Once again they have a roster very capable of playing finals footy but as for 2019, this won’t be a season to remember for anything but the wrong reasons.