Souths v Dragons: Five key points
South Sydney are back in the winning column while the Dragons lost for the first time in 56 days after going down to the premiers 16-10. Here are the five key points to come out of Monday night's clash.
Souths back on track
They may have taken their first win in three weeks, and their second in the past six, but you can tell the aura around South Sydney has returned somewhat after their win over the Dragons.
With halfback Adam Reynolds back to guide the Rabbitohs around, the reigning champions proved once again they are the real deal and will be a worthy competitor for the Storm this coming Saturday night.
The most pleasing aspect for skipper Greg Inglis though was the fact his troops stuck together in a low period for the club.
"We still trained hard, we still did the little things we're supposed to do and to come away with those two points against a high quality team is really pleasing," Inglis said post-game.
"The best thing about to is we still have things we need to fix up so we'll go back and do our homework because we have to take on Melbourne down there so that'll be a tough task."
Adam Reynolds a welcome return
It's no coincidence South Sydney snapped their losing streak in Reynolds' return game.
He didn't have to do anything exceptional for them to earn the win but his guidance and experience was a welcome boost and relieved some pressure on his teammates.
The halfback's renowned kicking game was also something his club has sorely missed.
"[Adam] showed great composure and obviously his kicking game helped us," Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said post-game. "I think also his voice and the way he directs, he just adds to [the team] the way a quality player like Adam should."
Dragons' premiership credentials unharmed
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said it himself: the Dragons "won't lose any admirers" in the way they played against the Rabbitohs.
While their huge six-game winning run came to end with the six-point loss, the Dragons have done their reputation no harm.
A surprise packet in the Telstra Premiership so far, the Dragons have proved themselves to be the real deal over the past 56 days and a club every team will have to be wary of this season.
"We competed really well against the premiers at their hungriest and their most desperate," McGregor said after the loss.
"We had our chances in the last 10 minutes but we probably used up too much gas defending. When you're defending so hard it probably takes away a little bit from your execution.
"I'm really proud of our guys, it's not enjoyable losing but when they go out and show energy and effort like that then there is something to take away from it for sure."
Madge remains coy on Luke's demotion
When Souths hooker Issac Luke signed with the New Zealand Warriors for the 2016 season and beyond last week, the veteran maintained he was more than committed to the Rabbitohs cause for the remainder of the year.
However when the team lists came out an hour before kick-off, it was revealed Luke would be warming the bench for the start of the game – a game plan which Maguire maintained was agreed upon by himself and his star rake.
"We have standards in our club around how we play and obviously how we perform. It was a bit of a rotation – Issac and I talk about his game quite a lot and we agreed that we wanted to start with Camo [McInnnes] so it was just a change we had," Maguire said.
"Issac was good though, he bought a lot of enthusiasm which he brings no matter where he starts so it was just a bit of change up for us and I think it worked well."
Josh Dugan an Origin must
Forget Matt Moylan. Forget James Tedesco. Forget Brett Stewart.
St George Illawarra fullback Dugan is the man for Laurie Daley's Blues No.1 jersey.
After running for a game-high 268 metres, including multiple tackle breaks and scintillating carries, Dugan was easily the best on the paddock despite being in a losing team.
For McGregor, Dugan being picked for Origin is a "no-brainer" because he simply "wouldn't have anyone else there", while Dragons captain Ben Creagh was all for it.
"I thought [Dugan] was outstanding," Creagh said. "His involvements were great, his defence at the back was rock solid and he's doing it week after week now which is great for our team. I really do hope he gets a Blues jersey because he deserves it."
Even Rabbitohs captain Inglis was complimentary towards his Kangaroos teammate.
"Josh is a high quality player and everyone is well aware of that. When you come up against a team like that with the form Josh Dugan is in you have to be on your toes," Inglis said. "He's just one of those blokes who can turn a game."