Stats Insider: Why the Dragons need a loss

IT sounds ridiculous, but do the St George Illawarra Dragons actually need a loss between now and the finals to give themselves the best chance at premiership glory?<br><br>Considering the best winning streak up to and including a grand final victory over the past 50 seasons has been 11 wins in a row, are the Dragons putting too much pressure on themselves by continuing their current purple patch, which after last Friday night’s defeat of Penrith is at seven consecutive wins?<br><br>If the joint-venture side does go through the rest of the season without a loss it would put their streak at 14 games – by far the best run to a premiership in the past five decades and the equal-seventh-best winning streak of all time for any club.<br><br>In recent times a functioning salary cap has produced eight different premiers in the past eight seasons and such is the closeness of the competition, getting on any sort of long winning streak at any stage of the year, let alone in the pressure cooker environment of the back end of a season, is particularly tough.<br><br>Some might say that with every win you are closer to a loss; it’s a psychological warfare in one’s own mind to rid oneself of this type of negative talk. Of course, supercoach Wayne Bennett is probably the best equipped to take this out of the equation – but it still leaves a sense of unease amongst the Dragons’ faithful.<br><br>In his six previous titles with Brisbane, Bennett oversaw a nine-game streak in 1992 and a seven-game streak in Super League of 1997, but the other four premierships had streaks of just four of three games.<br><br>With the Wests Tigers and Parramatta Eels also in the midst of streaks, their fans should know that while they cannot afford any losses just to make the top eight, they would also be making history if they powered all the way through to a title. <br><br>The Tigers have now won five in a row. If you add four more premiership games it gets to nine. It would take another four wins in the finals to get a winner’s ring, making their potential streak 13 games. Meanwhile the Eels would be at 12 in a row following their fruitful last month if they could continue the fairytale.<br><br>Since 1959 one side has claimed the premiership with their 11th successive win, the 1972 Manly Sea Eagles, with the next best being four sides, who each notched up nine in a row. The 1959 St George Dragons, the 1989 Canberra Raiders, the 1992 Brisbane Broncos and the 2002 Sydney Roosters used huge momentum all the way to the winner’s podium. <br><br>Coaches always talk about momentum in the finals, about how it can make or break a side – but where is the happy medium? How often do you hear about teams, whether it is in professional sport or even amateur sport, where a side has been undefeated for so long, only to fall at the final hurdle?<br><br>The 2001 Parramatta Eels came into the grand final on the back of 10 straight wins, only to lose to Newcastle. Was the pressure of the streak too much? <br><br>The same question was asked in the USA’s NFL in 2007 when the New England Patriots entered the Super Bowl with an 18-0 record only to lose to the massive underdog New York Giants. There are countless examples of teams with similar fates.<br><br>So maybe the potential suspension of three Dragons in Justin Poore, Beau Scott and Matt Prior, plus the injury cloud over Matt Cooper, and the terrible record the Dragons have against Canberra in Canberra, is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps a loss now, would ensure victory later?<br><br>Of course, the Dragons could also lose their first finals game and still win the comp.<br><br>But looking to this weekend, the Dragons have only won at Canberra Stadium twice in eight attempts, with their last victory in the nation’s capital coming way back on July 1, 2000. Would a loss, considering they have a four-point buffer between themselves and the second-placed Bulldogs, be damaging at all?<br><br>“Basically most teams don’t go out to win or lose, they actually go out to execute,” leading sports psychologist Phil Jauncey tells NRL.com. <br><br>“Sometimes you win when you don’t execute well and sometime you lose when you do, because of an unbelievable play or contentious decision. But the big thing about coming into finals is whether you are executing well rather than being on a streak.”<br><br>Jauncey, who has worked with national teams including the Broncos and Brisbane Lions AFL team, is not a subscriber to the thought process that a loss is something to be happy about. <br><br>“People usually only say a loss is good for you after they have lost and they can say the monkey is off the back,” he contends. “The thought of it being good to lose a game is like saying it is good to stop executing – and that is not a way to get mentally stronger. <br><br>“It’s like simple mathematics. If I flip a coin 20 times and it has come up tails every time, some might say the next time there is a better than 50/50 chance it will be tails, when in fact it is still 50/50. It is the same in sport. <br><br>“If the Dragons get to the grand final on the back of 13 wins and people look at the current top mark of nine and think the odds are against them, they are wrong. The chances are just as likely they can set the new mark. <br><br>“It is true the fact it may be talked about a lot could play into a player’s mind but one thing I know about Wayne Bennett is he will have them focussed on execution and if everybody does their job in executing on any given day there is no reason they can’t keep winning.”<br><br><b>Best Winning Streaks To A Premiership (last 50 years)</b><br>11 matches: Manly 1972.<br>9 matches: Sydney Roosters 2002, Brisbane 1992, Canberra 1989, St George 1959.<br>7 matches: Melbourne 2007, Penrith 2003, Brisbane 1997 (Super League), Bulldogs 1979, South Sydney 1970, St George 1964, St George 1960.<br>6 matches: Manly 2008, Bulldogs 1995, Bulldogs 1984, St George 1961.<br>5 matches: Newcastle 2001, Manly 1996, St George 1979, South Sydney 1971, South Sydney 1967.<br>4 matches: Wests Tigers 2005, Bulldogs 2004, Brisbane 1993, Penrith 1991.<br>3 matches: Brisbane 2006, Brisbane 2000, Melbourne 1999, Brisbane 1998, Bulldogs 1988, Manly 1987, Parramatta 1986, Parramatta 1981, Manly 1973, St George 1966, St George 1965, St George 1962.<br>2 matches: Newcastle 1997, Canberra 1994, Canberra 1990, Bulldogs 1985, Parramatta 1983, Parramatta 1982, Manly 1976, Eastern Suburbs 1975, Eastern Suburbs 1974, Balmain 1969, South Sydney 1968, St George 1963.<br>1 match (drawn match beforehand): Manly 1978, St George 1977.<br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/fanzone/ladderpredictor/tabid/10868/default.aspx"><b><br>So will the Dragons drop a game? Find out here...</b></a><br>