SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11: Dragons players look dejected after conceding a try during the round 22 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Social media knew it was coming, although it was a little later in 2018 than usual.

The almighty, and unfortunately for fans of the Red V, annually ‘choke’ was on.

The March and April premiers the Dragons, who each and every year seem to blow the competition away in the early rounds and then go on to fall from grace to the point where they either miss, or are bounced early from the finals.

Round One: the Dragons belt the Broncos off the park to the tune of 34-12. Ben Hunt has a blinder and sends a huge raspberry the way of Wayne Bennett. Great start.

Round Two: The Dragons beat their fiercest rivals the Sharks in front of a big Thursday night crowd in the Shire. Josh Dugan loses the ball over the line and starts the Dragons comeback. Perfect.

Round Three: A half cenuty, and then some, sees the Dragons belt the Titans 54-4 on the holiday strip. The Dragons are the form team of the competition and look incredible. Widdop will win the Dally M in a landslide.

Round Four: Another attacking blitz lead by Gareth Widdup sees the Red V belt the Knights 30-12. Too easy.

Round Five: The Dragons win a close one. 16-12 over the Bunnies. it wasn’t as pretty as the two proceeding weeks but it was valuable. Great win over a premiership contender.

Round Six: A huge 40-20 win over the Sharks sees the Dragons record a second win over their local rivals in the space of four rounds. They’re flying, no one can stop them this season, surely.

Round Seven: A blip. A loss to the Warriors. Not to worry, a tough away trip and the loss they had to have.

Round Eight: A 24-8 win on Anzac day over the competition favourites has the Dragons back on track. Seriously, who can stop the juggernaut? This forward pack is dominating all before them. Widdop is Dally M elect. Hunt and Graham are the signings of the season.

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Round Nine: The Sharks BELT the premiers. 34-14. Euan Aitken is monstering all before him. Paul Vaughan cannot be stopped. Widdop, AGAIN!!! Dragons fans rush to purchase Grand Final tickets and who can blame them …

I’m going to stop there. I’ve made my point, the Dragons started on fire.

Fast forward to a week out from the finals series and the Dragons are whacked 38-0 by a Bulldogs side closer to the spoon than finals contention. The players are boo’ed off the park, literal jerseys are set alight by angry fans. This team is not only now at long odds of a top four finish but are staring down the barrel of an away trip to Brisbane or Auckland in round one of the finals.

YUK!!! What went wrong!?

Dragons fans are quick to point to Origin as their club’s downfall but given recent history, perhaps the joint venture club is just allergic to playing good footy when it really matters!?

Of course I joke but something has gone seriously wrong in Kogarah/The Gong. Fans are calling for resignations from the CEO to the ball boys and girls, and everyone in between.

Ben Hunt is arguably the most heavily scrutinised player in the game right now. Considering his contract is worth a reported $1.2 million a year, that’s not all that crazy.

He is playing some horrible football. I hate to kick a player when he’s down but his form is not good. He is capable of turning it around but he looks out of ideas.

Halves partner Gareth Widdop is out injured, but even before his stint on the sidelines his form was not great.

Teams really figured both halves out and the increased pressure has lead to a plethora of mistakes that have become fodder for the media and those far more clever than myself across social media.

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Euan Aitken has fallen from NSW Origin certainty to a player who wouldn’t be out of position in NSW Cup. Once again, I hate to say that as I’m a fan of Aitken, but his confidence is down and he has been taken to task over recent weeks.

Matt Dufty was an outsider to claim an unlikely Origin spot in the early rounds but has barely been sighted in the past few weeks. His demotion to the bench in last Sunday’s must win encounter says it all.

Up front, Paul Vaughan’s injury was a horror blow to his side’s chances. He was the pack leader and in supreme form. He finally earned a well over due Origin jersey and was playing well when he went down hurt.

Unfortunately the rest of the once untouchable Dragons pack was unable to match his efforts. Tyson Frizell is half as effective in the front row, James Graham works hard but can’t punch holes ala Andrew Fifita, David Klemmer, Marty Taupau etc, while Tariq Sims and Jack de Belin aren’t the wrecking balls that saw them demand Origin jumpers.

The Dragons simply don’t have a plan B. Opposition coaches worked them out. Sure it took ten weeks but from there the Dragons haven’t been the same side.

The shifts wide are easily dealt with. The second phase play is few and far between. The absence of Widdop makes it far easier for defenses to target Hunt into error. Cam McInnes no longer has the space to punch holes in weak market defense.

I wrote earlier that form doesn’t overly matter coming into the finals. No side should be happier to hear that than the out of sorts Red V.

They need to find a plan B this weekend and beyond or they’ll be searching Trivago for end of season trip deals sooner rather than later.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Keeping McGregor is their problem. 2016 should have seen him punted. If he produced that result for rorters say, Politis would have had him executed. The usual rules don’t apply to dragons. They are like St Kilda, cursed to always be also rans

  2. To 99% of League fans daffy nobody has a clue about VFL team St Kilda. Don’t compare Ballet teams with the real deal Footy. It is so obvious to League followers that Saint George did not rank earlier in the year with most prudent punters as ever being a threat. Put simply this side has excelled in making the eight after vastly overachieving everybody’s expectations. Sure they have a good pack on paper and excellent 5/8 and an ok half, however the three quarter line up needs a major overhaul.

  3. Redv90, It all began when I predicted they would not be leading the comp by the halfway mark. Remember不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不

  4. The coach McGregor is just so useless and doesn’t have a clue how to motivate a team. Our vision is………. Actions speak later than words and the only action that should happen now is McGregor gets kicked out the door to save anymore embarrassment. Stop blaming Ben Hunt. The forwards are just woeful with holes as big as the Sydney heads.Its up to the coach to motivate his team and what has McGregor done?? ZERO

  5. SOO period killed the dragons – (1) Forwards got picked and clocked off from club footy, (2) Players that didnt get picked for SOO gave up, (3) Hunt got dropped, (4) Dufty thinks he is worth more and starts talking money, (5) Whiddop dyes his hair white, (6) Mary says he is not worried. And to top it off, their bench is fat and slow and couldnt step up.

  6. St choke it happens every year. Only won under Bennet because the storm were out. Should be an astrix against that premiership

    • lol the biggest salary cap cheats get sent to the floor and even if they had 2 points per win they barely make the 8.

      We’ll keep that one if you dont mind Kraken….

  7. This. Website is crap never loads properly.
    Never have problems with others.
    The guy who wrote this cant even get it right saying the sharks beat the premiers i thought the article was about saints.

  8. This. Website is crap never loads properly.
    Never have problems with others.
    The guy who wrote this cant even get it right saying the sharks beat the premiers i thought the article was about saints.
    Also the storm cheated their bad luck get over it

  9. There is no excuses, you train hard you get paid well and you cant have an excuse for losing games that should not be lost like the way they are. This is your job. SOO or not does not excuse a loss of 30+ points in two of the last 3 games. Let alone the losses of the last eight. Then for some players to dismiss the enormity of the game last week defies belief.
    Two of the best club men were to be honoured last Sunday, Lance a champion of the Red V, a bloke that symbolises the ethos of the modern era, a bloke that never wanted to leave the club a club junior that was a really proud clubman. The guy that gave so much for many careers in order to make the club a better place.The Sharks showed him more respect on the day.
    Then there is Jason Nightingale another club junior that gave up his spot on many occasions and played in numerous positions early and late in his career to the benefit of the team, loyality beyond approach, a absolute champion of the club a bloke that always put the club first.
    I find it disrespectful that they could not honour the guys with effort and respect. Win, loose or draw 38-0 is not respecting the guys that have walked the field before you.
    With so much on offer for the day I find it inconsiderate that players were offended and found it acceptable to feel they were wronged by the supporters. Have a look at yourselves, 3 years in a row you have now fallen away, something has to change and that is your attitude, I feel for those guys that are passionate about the jersey vs. the ones that feel entitled, all the supporters can see it at the end of the games, the difference is that the ones that care are gutted and the others are the ones that are oh well its just another game. Its time to have a crack and fire up and look at thr privilege you have in wearing that jersey.

  10. Personally I think the Dragons went wrong when Mary didnt rest any players after the origin series like all the other teams did.
    In saying that though most if not all of these players are under 30 and fit as so recovery shouldnt be an issue.
    Also confindence is a wonderful thing and if they can find the form from earlier in the season then look out in the finals.
    We all know finals are a different game and we have the players to win these big games.
    Cheers

    • I said the other day we need to get the coaching staff to pay more attention to mental fatigue … i agree with you though, we have some good talent so lets hope finals fires them up.

  11. I said the other day we need to get the coaching staff to pay more attention to mental fatigue … i agree with you though, we have some good talent so lets hope finals fires them up.

  12. maybe the Dragons need to hit rock bottom before they fire up and bounce back to their best?
    some clubs/teams/players/coaches need something major to go wrong before attitudes start to change.

  13. Well Widdop is good when the forwards are running riot but when they “merely” hold their own, Widdop isn’t NSW Cup standard. When forwards are getting dominated, like last week every half in the competition is rubbish.

  14. What has McGregor done since he took over from Price in 2015? NOTHING. The Dragons are in a worse position now having being humiliated by 36 points to wooden spooners Parramatta, then by 38 points to Canterbury at Kogarah their home ground. An absolute disgrace McGregor.

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