April 17, 2024

“It’s a good football team here,” Flanagan said following the Dragons’ victory at home.

Head coach Shane Flanagan of the St George Illawarra Dragons said he was pleased with his team’s mentality during their hard-fought victory over the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday night.

Playing their first game of the season in Wollongong, the Dragons were able to snap a two-match losing streak in the encounter, having fallen short against the Dolphins and North Queensland Cowboys over the last fortnight.

The game against the Cowboys, played at Kogarah, was particularly disheartening for the Dragons given they, at one stage, led the clash 18 points to 4.

The win over Manly in an error-filled game saw the Red V lock their record up at two and two from the first month of action, and Flanagan said it was an important victory for the club.

“It was an important game for us. We started the season off well, and then fell back into some bad habits or traits,” Flanagan said during his post-match press conference.

“Our last two games weren’t what we needed, so it was really good to come here at home in front of a good crowd against a good football team and play what I think is our style of footy.”

Flanagan, who spent most of the week talking about defensive resilience, said his team delivered on that front, and admitted his toughest job was convincing the Dragons they are a good rugby league team.

That comes after years of being at the wrong end of the table, ultimately leading to Anthony Griffin being sacked by the outfit in the middle of 2023, marking the third time the Dragons had dumped a coach since Wayne Bennett left at the end of 2011.

“We weren’t that great, especially to start the second half. Our completion rate was awful, but we showed some real resilience defensively and kept turning them away. To keep the talent in that football side to basically six for most of the game was a really good job. I was really happy with our attitude,” Flanagan said on the Dragons’ defence.

“I’ve got a good football team here. I’ve just got to convince them.

“The two games we have won have been chalk and cheese to the two games we have lost. We have the talent, but we just need to find consistency.”

The Dragons’ defensive intensity saw Manly complete at just 69 per cent during the game, making a total of 15 errors, with five of them coming from Tom Trbojevic.

The star fullback was uncharacteristically poor against the Dragons, and Flanagan admitted his side had a plan to slow down Trbojevic.

“We had a focus on him. He [Trbojevic] is a key player for them. Everything Manly do, usually Tom is around it. We had a real focus on limiting his time, limiting his space and getting to him quickly and I think we did a pretty good job,” Flanagan said.

The win leaves the Dragons in 12th place on the table prior to Sunday and Monday’s games, however, just two points away from the top of the table as the early season continues to play out.

The Dragons travel for a tough clash with the Newcastle Knights next Friday evening, before they play the Wests Tigers and New Zealand Warriors on the lead in to their traditional Anzac Day clash against the Sydney Roosters.

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