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Match Report - Round 5 2005

Dragons fire for first win

By ADAM HAWSE www.news.com.au
10/4/2005

BESIEGED St George-Illawarra coach Nathan Brown revealed a team meeting held seven days ago gave him confidence his side had turned the corner, even before last night's resounding win over previously unbeaten Manly.

After the Dragons notched their first win of the season, delighting a bumper home crowd at WIN Stadium, Brown said the catalyst was a frank discussion held the morning after last weekend's hammering by Canberra.

"I thought we took a big step forward last Sunday when we had a meeting and Trent (Barrett) and Luke Bailey spoke and said it's about time each player took responsibility and ownership," Brown said.

"You saw in this performance of our senior players. It's no secret that if your senior players play well you win games.

"That's been going on since Dally Messenger was a boy.

"Those blokes led the way and everyone followed. We've got to do it again next week.

"But last week I took a lot of confidence in what was said. It wasn't a lot, but it was very constructive. That's when I thought things would get better."

Captain Trent Barrett said today would be the first time in a month he would wake up with a smile on his face. Barrett capped the win with a classy try late in the second half.

"I can't tell you how hard the last month has been," Barrett said.

"Tonight we got rewarded for sticking together and training hard. We could have capitulated, but we're back now and this has given us something to start with.

"It will be nice to wake up and play with the family knowing we've got two points. Life is good again.

"It's good to see the boys smiling again and Brownie, who has been under a lot of pressure."

The Dragons' 26-point win against a previously unbeaten team continues the bizarre series of results this season. The news was almost all good for the Dragons, with a successful comeback from star centre Mark Gasnier after nine months out of the game with injury and powerful games up front from props Bailey and Jason Ryles.

The Dragons also improved their defence, conceding just one try after averaging an average of 38 points against them in the first four games of the season.

The only possible lowlight looms in the shape of a fine for Brown failing to inform ground officials of his decision to elevate Dean Young into the starting team at hooker ahead of Michael Ennis.

The incident is in the ground manager's report, but Brown claimed he totally forgot after a week of focusing on how to get the Dragons off the bottom of the table.

"I made the decision so early in the week I forgot all about it," Brown said.

Manly coach Des Hasler refused to blame referee Sean Hampstead after a flood of penalties against his side for holding down in the ruck.

He also refused to use having last week off with the bye as an excuse for his team's worst performance of the season.

"We just didn't play well," he said. "We had a good week of training and prepared well. It just didn't go according to plan.

"We've got to bounce back against the Raiders at home, which we will."

Hasler gave a flat "no" when asked if he thought people would start to ask if Manly's bubble had burst.

In a game that was ill tempered at times, Manly five-eighth Michael Witt was sin-binned late in the game for running in when a scuffle broke out between other players.

ST GEORGE-ILL 32
(B Hornby D Young C Best M Ennis T Barrett tries; M Head 6 goals)

MANLY 6
(B Kite try; M Witt goal).

Referee: S Hampstead.

Crowd: 16,117.

TEAM:

Brett Stewart
Scott Donald
Steve Mattai
Paul Stephenson
Chris Hicks
Michael Witt
Michael Monaghan
Ben Kennedy
Anthony Watmough
Steve Menzies
Daniel Heckenberg
Chad Randall
Brent Kite
Luke Williamson
Kylie Leuluai
Sam Harris
Shayne Dunley