I'm excited by what's to come: McGregor
Dragons coach Paul McGregor isn't carried away after one thumping win but has praised the efforts of his team and says he's excited by what's to come from them this season.
The under-fire Dragons scored the second-fewest points of any team last year and lost their first-choice halfback in Drew Hutchison (ACL) in the pre-season, having parted ways with senior playmaker Benji Marshall.
It left few pundits expecting much from the Red V in the Round 1 meeting with competition favourites Penrith but McGregor's squad put those doubts to the sword with a powerful 42-10 thrashing at Kogarah.
McGregor said fellow Round 1 winners Parramatta would present a much different challenge at Wollongong this Sunday and has challenged his players to match the Eels' aggression in the middle.
"I'm certainly excited for what's to come," McGregor said on Thursday.
"[The win over Penrith] was a nice way to close out a tough pre-season. The performance reflected how hard they worked and the boys got a nice result in the first game at home in Kogarah.
"I know how hard they work and how determined they were going into Round 1 so it didn't surprise me but it was nice to see that it was executed under pressure."
The Dragons' pack powered through the middle of Penrith with props Paul Vaughan (189 metres) and Russell Packer (174 metres), back-rowers Joel Thompson (eight tackle busts and three tries) and Tyson Frizell (three offloads and 131 metres) and lock Jack De Belin (five offloads, seven tackle busts, 155 metres) all pumping out absurd numbers.
The most notable part of the Eels' win over the Sea Eagles – aside from halfback Corey Norman's sublime kicking game – was the aggression from the middle men with Suaia Matagi (151 powerful metres), Tim Mannah (173 metres) and Nathan Brown (156 metres, three offloads) all making big contributions.
"They get their energy from their aggression and their aggression comes from their defence and their line speed so it's certainly something we have to look at as a group and appreciate what they're bringing and break what they're bringing," McGregor said.
"It's going to be physical. We're not hiding away from that and they won't be either so we're looking forward to it. It's a good challenge. It's a completely different style of defence to what we came up against with the Panthers. The Panthers get forward and like to slide where [the Eels] are very aggressive and get off their line hard."
McGregor tipped a continuation of the strategy with exciting rookie Jai Field coming in for limited minutes as he eases his way into first grade.
"Jai as we know is an exciting young player, he's only a kid. To get a taste at home for the first time at Kogarah, under the circumstances was nice," McGregor said.
"Nothing changes too much [with] our 21. Luce (back-rower Luciano Leilua) came into our 21 obviously but other than that it's the same squad."