No slacking off for Dragons in finals

St George Illawarra Dragons prop Dan Hunt promises he and his team-mates will maintain their intensity during the NRL finals. Picture: ROBERT PEETSt George Illawarra prop Dan Hunt has revealed the players have formed a pact not to die wondering in this year’s NRL finals series.Having based their season on the rock-solid defence which was again on show in Sunday’s victory over the Warriors, Hunt said the Dragons have already discussed a determination to maintain the intensity during the play-offs.While the Dragons recent history is littered with big-game disappointment, Hunt said team-mates did not want to let their opportunity slip this time.”We just don’t want to let our mates down,” he said.”And that means always turning up on the inside (in defence), working that extra bit harder and it has obviously paid off.”They didn’t get across the line – Darius (Boyd) did that great try-saver – but everyone is just doing their job and we’re going great.”Fullback Boyd made a stunning try-saving tackle last weekend to deny the Warriors during a period where the New Zealanders had a glut of possession on the Dragons line.As a result of St George Illawarra continually repelling the Warriors advances, they took an 18-4 lead into half-time before running away with a 29-4 victory.The Dragons are presented with a golden opportunity to prove their premiership credentials in the finals-type atmosphere against the Storm at Kogarah tomorrow night.A minor premiership this season would be the first step in erasing the memories of the Dragons 1999 grand final loss to Melbourne, or the 2005 and 2006 preliminary final losses. Former Illawarra Steelers coach Graham Murray, who took North Queensland and the Roosters to grand finals in 2005 and 2000 respectively, said the Dragons’ simple game plan will help them cope with the play-off pressure.Murray believes St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett is the master of handling big games.”From a coaching point of view, leaving the players in their positions this year has reaped huge rewards for them,” Murray said.”He didn’t mess with their positions or structure. “A lot of coaches have been guilty of that – I’ve been guilty of that.”But he hasn’t wavered one bit and he would be pleased with where they are at.”In the past they’ve often been worried about using their superstar backline before creating a forward platform or trying to come up with something special to win games.”But Wayne has come with a simple philosophy and it’s something each and every player believes in, which makes a big difference to a team.” Full coverage of The St George Illawarra Dragons
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