2016 Charity Shield: Five key points
Rule changes pass their first test, Packer shows his worth, Mann impresses and South Sydney's new dummy-half combination fires. The key talking points to come from the 2016 Charity Shield.
Shot Clock passes first test
The introduction of several rule changes seemed to have little effect on Saturday night's contest. Players from both teams embraced the shot clock, with neither side coming close to conceding a penalty for delaying the game.
Ben Creagh said he didn't notice the shot clock while he was on the field.
"I wouldn't say it was a really a factor to tell you the truth. I didn't really notice it too much tonight," Creagh said.
"It seemed like the normal amount of time to get back for a drop out or get to a scrum. There were no guys having to run or rush to get there so I don't think it was too much of a problem tonight."
In fact, most scrums and line dropouts were taken with 15 seconds to go. Only a couple got within three seconds of an infringement.
Packer leads from the front
Russell Packer is going to have a big year. After an impressive hit-out in last week's trial win over Wynnum Manly, Packer's run of pre-season form continued – especially in his second stint.
As Ben Creagh left the field with a neck injury, Packer returned to the game just six minutes after coming off. His short break on the sidelines seemed to reenergise him, with Packer's work-rate there for everyone to see.
The former Warrior produced plenty of hit-ups, second phase play and an intensity in defence that would have had the coach excited. Free of any serious injury, Creagh was impressed with what he saw from the imposing front-rower.
"He's the 120kg forward we've needed for a couple of years now. He carts the ball up hard, and defensively he's pretty imposing as well."
Packer was his own harshest critic, saying the team had plenty to work on moving forward.
"We were down a little bit in our intensity. The speed of the game was a lot faster than the Wynnum game but it was good to get back out there. We'll learn from this as a group."
Is Kurt the Mann?
Kurt Mann put his hand up to be the Dragons No.1 in 2016. Deputising for Josh Dugan, the former Storm centre showed why the Dragons were so keen for his services, scoring the team's first try, and denying Damien Cook what would have been another at the other end.
While opportunities were limited in attack, Mann made himself available wherever possible, following his big men around the middle of the field. His positioning at the back was impressive, defusing several kicks and escaping the in goal on more than one occasion.
Mann's coach was circumspect about the fullback's performance, labelling it a work in progress.
The rookie No.1 agreed with his mentor, saying tonight's performance was all part of the plan.
"He just wants to make sure I know my role mainly. Our attack's changed this year, everyone's got a role to play and that's the most important thing, that everyone knows their role in attack."
Damien Cook is going to be one of the buys of the season. The former Bulldog made an immediate impact when he came on late in the first half, slicing through some tired defence to nearly score a memorable solo try.
While Cam McInnes controlled the ruck, Cook provided the burst of energy his team needed either side of half-time.
Souths coach Michael Maguire was coy on how he would use his two hookers, saying, "I've got ideas about which way I'll go, but it's up to the players.
"We're a performance-based team, and we talk about that amongst each other and the senior players, so we'll make those decisions after the trial."
Cook was keen to deflect the attention to McInnes, saying, "Cam's got a real level head on him and he knows what we've got to do at the start of the game. He really controlled the ruck there so it was really good.
"Me and Cam work really hard together. We're really hard on each other at training. We've got a good combo at training and hopefully we can get that on the field as well."
Both teams finish injury-free
The biggest fear for any coach is one of his key players going down with a serious injury in the pre-season.
Manly has already been hit hard, with Jayden Hodges the biggest casualty of last week's Nines.
Early indications suggest both sets of players emerged relatively unscathed from tonight's clash.
"No injuries which is a real positive. When you get through trials and have no injuries that's the biggest positive. You lose a game and it doesn't cost you anything for the year," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.
His counterpart, Michael Maguire, was equally relieved.
"We had a couple come off, but they're all just minor little bumps. Obviously just first games, getting used to the contact again."
Luke Keary was a late scratching, with Maguire confirming he had a minor hip complaint. He should be available for next week's trial against the Titans.