After just two games, a few commentators have hit the panic button and announced that the Dragons are in trouble.
Two losses, apparently, is enough to claim that the sky is falling, especially when it comes to a club with such a venerable history. Elsewhere down south in Cronulla Sutherland, two losses has prompted less of an outcry.
But there’s a difference between these neighbours: while the Sharks have had some memorable moments in recent years, the Saints have had a particularly rough run of it. They’ve played so poorly at times that winning has simply been off the table. In fact, the table’s gone – bubble wrapped, packed and shipped. It was last seen in Honolulu.
There’s also the fact that Dragons fans have had enough and are demanding change.
Fair call. Being competitive would be enough, you’d think. But even that’s proven difficult, especially when you look at the team’s last two outings, which hardly raised a whimper. There’s simply been no fire. I mean St. George has not only lacked puff, they seem incapable of coughing fumes.
The problems are glaring. For one, coach Paul McGregor has questioned his side’s carelessness with the ball because a number of errors halted any flow they might have had, particularly against the Tigers in round 2.
The stat sheet showed a 60% completion rate in that game for the Red V, which is pretty woeful when your opponent completes close to 80%. It’s just hard to win with that type of play, and it’s only exacerbated when you break through the line fewer times than your opponent as well.
But sometimes the rate at which a team completes its sets of six doesn’t tell the whole story. Sure, it gives you a sense of the plot but is sketchy on the details of the most important scenes.
That’s why we have highlights folks – or as the case may be, lowlights – and the Dragons’ attack has looked clumsier than Twitter’s reaction to a Sean Penn Oscar gag.
There just doesn’t seem to be enough control out of the ruck, with the ball sometimes thrown wildly to the next man like a piping hot potato. Other times it might be a blind pass across the backline that ends up rolling around at a player’s feet. And there’s just no explanation as to why this is happening to a first grade team. Even if the passes are poorly timed or too casually thrown, you’d think they’d generally land somewhere close to a pair of hands.
All that said, I think the Dragons’ defence is a bigger concern. There’s just not a great deal of patience or timing being applied in this area. For example, the defensive line is charging at the ball too quickly in some instances, bunching up in the middle and inevitably leaving a centre or winger wide open down the flank.
It’s easily rectified though: they just need to stop watching the ball and be aware that teams with speedy hands, like the Tigers, will deliver passes to the edge faster than defenders can turn their heads.
Against Wests, the Dragons were caught out early and often and before they knew it, they were down by a good 20 points. It could have been 40, if we’re honest. That’s not an ideal position to be in when your attack is sputtering, because you then expend all your energy trying keep the scoreline from bubbling over like a Mentos dropped in a Coke.
Listen, maybe that’s all the Dragons need – a hit of caffeine before they trot out from the sheds to make sure they’re awake for the first whistle.
Anything’s worth a shot.