Defence not enough for Dragons: Brown
They have moved to within the Telstra Premiership top eight on the back of the best defence in the NRL but former Dragons coach Nathan Brown has warned that St George Illawarra need to click in attack to be a finals threat.
Through five rounds the Dragons find themselves in the unique position of having the competition's best defence but also the worst attack, their 55 points 13 fewer than the next worst total (Sea Eagles, 68 points).
But in conceding a total of just four points in their past two games the Dragons have forged their way up the ladder, Brown issuing a warning in this week's Big League that if the attack doesn't soon follow suit their stay in the top half of the table will be a brief one.
"The attacking side is where the Dragons need to improve, as average attack will eventually put a lot of pressure on their defence," says Brown in his column in Big League.
"Good defence alone won’t do it for you; I believe you need to score 22 points in each match if you’re going to be a chance in this competition.
"If their halves click and they score points, I think the Dragons would back their defence to ensure they can beat anyone."
Now an assistant coach at the Storm, Brown played 172 games for the Red V and coached the Dragons for six seasons between 2003-2008 had has noticed some important changes to how Paul McGregor's men are operating.
Brown believes a greater willingness to accumulate any points that come on offer and some key positional changes have enabled St George Illawarra to turn around their slow start to the season.
"Against Melbourne in Round 1 they received penalty after penalty but kept taking the tap and walked away from 80 minutes of attack with just four points," says Brown.
"Compare that with the win against Manly and you can see a completely different side. They took every opportunity they had to take the two points and claimed an eight-point victory despite both teams scoring one try.
"It's a match I don't think they would’ve won in the opening fortnight, and the fact they were able to put scoreboard pressure on the Sea Eagles went a long way towards the win.
"Another change the coaching staff made has been the addition of Heath L'Estrange to the bench as a second option to Mitch Rein as hooker. Having a rest like he did in the Canberra game enabled Rein to come back on and score a match-winning try, and it's continuing to prove beneficial.
"L'Estrange on the other hand is an experienced player who has provided great impact."
The Round 6 issue of Big League is on sale now from newsagents and at the grounds. Digital version is also available through Zinio.