BY CURTIS WOODWARD
There are two trains of thought when it comes to the St George Illawarra Dragons. On one side of the argument you have those that feel like Coach Paul McGregor is doing an okay job and the Dragons aren’t going that badly.
The other side is a large group of viciously frustrated St George Illawarra fans sick to death of being close enough but not good enough.
Spare a thought for the small contingent of diehard supporters that rolled into a saturated WIN Stadium tonight to watch their team. Imagine how they feel walking out of the ground after the loss?
There will be more people at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday to see Campbelltown City play Mittagong.
But good on those bloody legends in Wollongong tonight.
Melbourne only won 16-14 but it’s another defeat and the Dragons now sit precariously with a 6-9 record and face the firing Canberra Raiders next weekend.
With a minute to play and a chance to snatch the game, the Dragons looked up and only had thirty metres to go. What did they come up with? Euan Aitken got caught with the ball on the last tackle.
“The boys can get a lot of confidence out of that,” McGregor said in the press conference.
“A small win in a loss.”
That may be the case if the Dragons can afford a loss.
But the cold hard fact is that it was another loss.
The Dragons were missing State of Origin stars and regular halves Ben Hunt and Corey Norman but on what we saw, Melbourne were there to be beat.
Melbourne had Cameron Smith and rising guns like Brandon Smith, Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen. International forwards Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich and one of the best wingers in the world in Suli Vunivalu.
Yet none of them had any say on the final result.
It was just a game. To be won or lost. And the Dragons lost.
“I’m very proud of the players’ performance,” McGregor continued.
“I don’t think the game deserved to finish the way it did. Our effort and resilience was brave.”
As Jack Nicholson says in Anger Management, “Jibber jabber jibber jabbering, mumbo jumbo, denial, key-key-key-key-key-key!”
On this score line alone there isn’t much to see.
The Storm are the best team in the premiership and grafted away to another victory.
But most sides in the NRL would have beaten Melbourne tonight.
St George Illawarra’s body language suggests they are just happy to “hang” with the top sides. They’re pretenders. Mumbo jumbo. Key, key, key.
History under McGregor suggests the Dragons will keep their head just above water – may even squeak into the playoffs but does anything really ever change?
There is still the chance they get Hunt and Norman back and they turn a corner but are they a top four side? No. Can they worry the top four? Highly unlikely.
Some will say this whole thing is a ‘hot take’. They only lost by two points. Tell that to Dragons fans who have been pulling their hair out for a long time.
The Dragons have the Raiders, a dangerously rebuilding Penrith and South Sydney coming up.
Another season could be gone before they know it.
Souths tapped premiership-winning coach Michael Maguire on the shoulder not long after the Rabbitohs won the comp. Brisbane squeezed out Wayne Bennett. Des Hasler had a winning record at Canterbury. Sometimes you just need to change things up.
McGregor isn’t a bad bloke.
Your writer likes Paul McGregor.
He is a club legend.
But sometimes it’s okay to try something different.
Let’s give McGregor the benefit of the doubt. For a few weeks, anyway.
The question is, will anything really change?