Dragons v Rabbitohs: Five key points
In awful conditions at the SCG, St George Illawarra bounced back from a big loss to Cronulla last week to upset the red-hot Rabbitohs. Here are five talking points from the 8-6 win.
Souths succumb to water torture
"Water torture encompasses a variety of techniques using water to inflict physical or psychological harm on a victim as a form of torture or execution," states noted journalistic resource Wikipedia, and is a particularly apt description for how the Dragons ground the Rabbitohs out of this contest, given the conditions.
They finished with a whopping 55 per cent of possession for the match, having forced four goal line drop-outs to none, and showing far better discipline to win the error count 9-5 and penalty count 13-7.
Captain Gareth Widdop, whose accurate kicking punished his opposition, said he was just looking to try and help his side win field position.
"It's hard in those conditions to put the ball in the air at times so wet slippery conditions, [so you just] try and find the ground. At times we did that and were just happy to win field position," he said.
Maguire proud of effort despite result
To have had to soak up the amount of defence – much of it at their try-line – as they did, Maguire was happy his charges kept picking themselves up to keep tackling.
"I was really proud of our players of the adversity they had to face throughout the game," he said.
"We didn't help ourselves too often throughout the game. There were quite a number of penalties which I'll have a look at and just around our kicking game, the clinical parts of our game and the polish wasn't quite there at times.
"Credit to St George they were able to get a few back-to-back sets and that builds pressure on you. Our players had to go through quite a number of those and they kept getting up and working hard defensively."
Dugan certain for another start at fullback
Much of the conversation around the Dragon's 0-2 start to the season has centred on the struggles of new fullback Kurt Mann, while gun fullback Josh Dugan played in the centres.
After an afternoon to forget at the back against the Sharks, Mann was demoted for the Souths game and his replacement in the No.1 jersey used his size and strength to ensure his team started their sets strongly.
Dugan battered his body through a match-high 210 metres from a game-high 22 runs. He had to do it the hard way, on a slow, soggy pitch, notching no tackle busts throughout but ensuring his side stayed out of their danger zone.
He came in for heady praise from coach Paul McGregor after the game, who guaranteed Dugan would play fullback again next week.
"It's experience; especially in conditions like [Sunday], experience is everything," McGregor said.
"Big body... 20-plus carries, that's what he brings to a footy team. We all talk about scoring points but it's about the condition to score points as well and him at the back gets us forward well and defensively he was outstanding."
Inglis joins the Terry Lamb appreciation society
With his side trailing 8-6 but in opposition territory as the final siren sounded, Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis bizarrely took a shot at drop goal. If successful it would have ensured an 8-7 loss for his side but he pushed the shot wide, allowing the Dragons to hang on to their 8-6 win.
For older rugby league fans it harked back to a 1992 Canterbury v Newcastle match where Bulldogs legend Terry Lamb potted a one-pointer in the dying moments with his side down 12-10, mistakenly thinking it was 10-all and consigning his side to a 12-11 loss.
Inglis and his coach could afford to laugh about it after, with the captain shrugging it off as a "brain explosion" that would find its way onto blooper reels.
His coach interjected: "He's probably a bit of a fan of Terry Lamb's I suppose!"
Once the chuckles from the press gallery died down, Maguire added with a grin: "Someone had to say it."
But he also leapt to the defence of the man who has led his side to plenty of big wins.
"It was just one of those things, Greggy's been terrific for us many times making decisions all the time and in that moment in time – not one of his best decisions but he's made a lot of good ones."
Dour conditions take Widdop home
The sweeping rain, chilly wind and sodden pitch would have reminded anyone who's been there of the north of England.
That was certainly true of Yorkshireman Widdop, and it shouldn't surprise that he was one of the players who adjusted to the conditions the best.
"It was obviously tough conditions. It felt like being back home to be honest!" he laughed after the game.
"Out there in those wet conditions to complete like we did just shows that we can do it in any conditions." His leadership rubbed off on halves partner Josh McCrone, a late call-up due to Benji Marshall's hamstring twinge, and between the two of them they ensured Souths didn't get a chance to lay a platform for a late charge.
The pair shared the kicking duties around, booting 281 metres (Widdop) and 251 metres (McCrone), each kicking for more than any Souths player, adjusting to what was required perfectly.