Forwards Are Dragon SGI Back Into Finals Race

By STEVE MASCORD

A RESOLUTION from St George Illawarra’s forwards some six weeks ago to bend defensive lines rather than focus on the shape and patterns is behind the Dragons’ late run to the finals, according to new fullback Jason Nightingale.

The joint venture side threw the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters during the first half of their 26-18 win over Melbourne on Friday but according to converted winger Nightingale, to say they have ‘thrown off the shackles” of earlier in the season is to over-simplify things.

“It comes off running harder … the difference is we’ve got a platform laid so we can throw the ball around a bit,” Nightingale tells RLW.

“We’ve noticed in the past that you have to get the points on the board and that’s something we were lucky enough to do early in the first half. That gave us the confidence to not go into our shell – I think we’ve been guilty in the past of getting the points on the board and packing up shop. We definitely didn’t do that.

“I don’t think our style has changed too much. We’ve still got the same shape. Running to break the line is the difference. You don’t bend things if you’re just playing to shape – you’ve got to create the play-the-ball, create the second phase. I think the difference is running to break the line, that’s the mentality we’ve adopted.

“We were still losing games when it happened, probably six to eight weeks ago. Maybe one before the Souths game and we still didn’t score points after that. It’s not something that happens instantly. Because we scored a lot of points (against Melbourne), it doesn’t mean it’s there (to stay).

“it’s an effort thing … it’s in all of us. It’s an instinct thing, ever since you’ve been playing footy. We’re using some of those instincts, still playing smart.”

Utility Nathan Fien says the statistics do lie, to an extent, when critics look at the Dragons’ attack. “A lot has been said about our attack but I feel all throughout the year we’ve been creating opportunities and for whatever reason, the last pass or the execution of the play hasn’t stuck,” says Fien.

“It’s never been panic stations for us. We know what we can do within the side. We know we’re a team that can get out there and score points.

“We’re close enough if we’re good enough. I know we’re playing a lot of those sides who are in a similar position to us. I guess our destiny is in our own hands.”

Nightingale credits captain Ben Hornby for giving him the advice that has helped ease him into the custodian role.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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