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Dragons captain Gareth Widdop faced his former club the Storm in Round 1.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor says his side started well against the Storm, but ball control and cheap penalties were key factors in the 18-16 loss.

The Dragons were penalised nine times to the Storm's four, and there were a few incidents in particular that left McGregor scratching his head.

"That one [on Will Chambers] and the dropped ball in the back end of the half when they just dropped it cold, and they penalised us for that as well. I'll have to have a really good look at it, but I'm a bit disappointed in a couple of decisions," McGregor said.

"Possession is a big thing early on in the year, and the momentum certainly went with the other side with a lopsided penalty count and us turning the ball over," McGregor added.

The Dragons got off to a promising start to lead 10-0 inside the opening 15 minutes courtesy of tries to Jason Nightingale and Benji Marshall. It was from that moment when things began to turn for the away side, as two Marika Koroibete tries put the Storm back into the contest.

Red V captain Gareth Widdop was pleased with the opening quarter of the game from his side, but noted that against such a strong opposition, his team couldn’t afford to switch off like they did. 

"We spoke about needing to start well and we certainly did that, then a few unforced errors off kick-offs and from our defence certainly hurt us and they got back in the game," Widdop said.

McGregor was quick to echo Widdop's claims about the opposition, saying that the Dragons won't be the only side to be left wanting after a trip down south.

"A lot of teams are going to follow us down here and come away with empty points, we understand that," McGregor said. 

"We can play better then that… I know my football team is a very good football team, they're a committed bunch of men, so we'll improve," he added.

McGregor also had praise for Kurt Mann who debuted at fullback for the Dragons against his old club, but admitted there was still work for him to do.

"At different stages of the game he came on really well, he was involved in the try, and a nice clean line break when we needed it late in the game," McGregor said.

"Obviously he came up with a few errors he needs to fix, but it's a new NRL position for him, so it'll take a bit of time," he added.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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