Huge win has Red V well placed
It was a performance few saw coming but a 52-22 win over the Sea Eagles has the Dragons well placed to secure a spot in the Telstra Premiership finals series with six rounds of the regular season remaining.
Scoring points had been an issue for Paul McGregor's side in recent weeks with the Red V managing to post 20 or more points just once since their Round 12 bye. However, they turned that around with their highest score since they smashed the Raiders 58-16 in 2007 to keep their finals hopes alive.
The damage was done in the first half with the Dragons racing in five unanswered tries before Manly mounted a stirring second-stanza comeback, only for the Red V to respond with the final four tries of the afternoon.
The win leaves the Dragons in eighth spot on 24 competition points – a win clear of the ninth-placed Panthers – with five of their final six matches against sides currently in the bottom half of the ladder.
"We won the first half quite comfortably and we drew the second, so as I said to the boys, our best is the best and our worst is the worst so we've just got to close that gap in between," coach Paul McGregor said after his side's best performance of 2017.
"The most pleasing thing to come out of the game today was the score. To put 50 points on any team in the NRL is exceptional and I thought our kicking game from our halves was the best it's been. That goes a long way to get the result that we did.
"The amount of pressure we placed on them with our kicking game in the first 40 minutes was exceptional."
There were signs last week that the Dragons were on the improve as they went down in golden point to the Raiders, and according to McGregor, Sunday's result is all part of the process as they continue to build towards September.
"I know no one understands the word 'process' and everyone wants results, but we had an eight-week block that started last week in Canberra. We got beaten in extra-time but we did enough to win that night but we didn't get the win," he said.
"We improved today in certain areas and we got a good, solid win so it's certainly a step in the right direction.
"I'm just excited about winning again. We said last week that we wanted to start building on our performances going to the backend of the year with everyone back like we had at the start of the year. With everyone back and working hard and preparing well and playing well, that was a great sign today."