Hurt Dragons vow to rally for daunting opener

Unplayable … Greg Inglis was in scintillating form. DEFCON-SOUTHS
Nanjing Night Net


MATT COOPER, Jason Nightingale and Mitch Rein started the Charity Shield but failed to finish it. Cameron King, the back-up Dragons hooker, was medicabbed off ANZ Stadium in the worst possible preparation for their premiership opener against the reigning premiers in Melbourne.

South Sydney held off a spirited second-half fightback to win the 30th edition of the pre-season fixture 28-10. The focus will be on a bulging Dragons casualty ward which already includes first-choice halfback Kyle Stanley.

Cooper suffered a calf strain while Nightingale also failed to show for the second half due to a sciatic issue in his leg. Rein was forced off with a shoulder problem while the club’s other dummy-half, King, was heavily concussed after running into the shoulder of Souths forward George Burgess. At least Michael Weyman, returning from a knee reconstruction, came through unscathed.

Cooper declared himself a certain starter against the Storm, saying he may have played only 40 minutes even if he didn’t pick up the niggle. And Dragons coach Steve Price was confident Nightingale and King would take their places for round one.

”Mitch Rein has got a bit of a burner there on his shoulder so we’ll let it settle down over the weekend and he can get scans early in the week,” he said. ”Our medical staff aren’t overly concerned.”

Despite the body count, the joint-venture club threatened to steal the contest when two tries in the space of four minutes narrowed the gap to six. But late tries to Rabbitohs youngsters Dylan Walker and Mitchell Buckett gave them a deserved victory.

Nathan Merritt was dumped for, the official line is, ”failing to meet team standards”. It’s believed the prolific try-scorer channelled James O’Connor and failed to respond to the alarm clock. Just like Ben Te’o the previous week, he will don the red and black of feeder team North Sydney in the ultimate wake-up call.

In his place stepped Bryson Goodwin, who took only 10 minutes to make his presence felt. The former Bulldogs winger crossed after a sweet cut-out pass from Greg Inglis. Every stakeholder in the game held their collective breath when the decision was referred upstairs on the slightest suspicion of obstruction. However, ”General” Luke Patten kept his head in his first decision in the video box and pressed the green button.

Inglis was again involved in the second touchdown, chipping over the Dragons’ defence, with Andrew Everingham batting the ball back to try-scorer Beau Champion.

Nathan Peats’s converted try near half-time, the result of a Canterbury-esque interchange of passes from their big men, gave Souths a 16-0 advantage at the break.

Injuries aren’t the only concern for Price. His right-edge defence was targeted with great success. And it was a mixed night for the makeshift halves pairing of Nathan Fien and Jamie Soward. Like all good relationships, this one will take time to blossom.

It is difficult to read too much into a trial. The winners of four of the past five Charity Shields have finished the season lower on the table than the vanquished. If anything, it raised only more questions, such as how good is Inglis? Others, such as what sort of a team will Price be able to assemble to take on the Storm, will be tougher to answer.

SOUTH SYDNEY 28 (B Goodwin B Champion N Peats D Walker M Buckett tries A Reynolds 2 Goodwin 2 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 10 (D Vidot T Merrin tries J Soward goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referees: Adam Devcich and Jared Maxwell.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation