The St. George Illawarra Dragons have made an impressive start to the 2018 season. From the word go, the spine has fired, the forwards have aimed up, and the outside backs have been in impeccable form.
A loss on the weekend was against the grain of what the Dragons have been able to produce across the first seven rounds of competition, and in many ways, it has shown to the rest of the competition that they are not as untouchable as many have made them out to be.
That being said, they are still sitting pretty atop the premiership ladder with 6 wins to their name and a positive differential of 106.
It is hard to see them missing the finals this year. But, as followers of the club know, you can’t read too much into the start the Dragons make to a season. They are, after all, constantly labelled May premiers for a reason.
Take last year for example. Going into the Anzac Day clash with the Roosters, the Dragons had amassed the same number of points as they have done so far in 2018. They sat in first position having defeated the defending premiers, the premiership favourites by a margin of 42-10, and the 2017 runners-up in Townsville.
But the season fell to pieces soon after, and by round 14 – having lost 5 of their previous 7 matches – they had slipped to 6th position.
Now this was by no means panic stations for the Dragons and their fans. However, quite disappointingly, they had once again failed to capitalise on an impressive start to the season.
This wouldn’t have been a huge problem had they made the finals. But, as has been the case so many times over the past few years, they were playing for their season for much of the backend of the year.
They took out a classic against Penrith in the penultimate round to keep their finals hopes alive before having them taken away at the hands of the Bulldogs a week later.
A very similar thing happened in 2015. Following a disappointing first two rounds, the Dragons took out eight of their next nine to, you guessed it, force their way into first position. What followed was as disappointing as it was predictable.
They lost seven on the trot to slump to 10th position on the competition table before making a late-season resurgence to scrape into eighth position. Their season was ended a week later in a similar fashion to 2017, going down to the Bulldogs in a golden point thriller during the first week of finals.
So can we expect the Dragons to romp into the finals in season 2018? Or will there be a repeat of 2017, where a disappointing mid-season run saw them miss the eight altogether? Maybe we’ll see them scrape into the finals only to be turfed out in the first week?
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