Year In Review 2017: St George-Illawara Dragons

Well, 2017 showed a lot of promise for the Dragons, after just Round 7 the Red V were sitting a top of the ladder, with a 6-1 record. Now, this is where things started to slide for the club. After what was a brilliant Anzac Day game against the Sydney Roosters the Dragons went down 13-12. 

Things started to slide from this point as the Dragons only managed to win 6 games the rest of the year and to show just how close things got their Round 26 loss to the Bulldogs cost the Dragons a place inside the Top 8 which saved the Cowboys from elimination. 

But not all things were bad for the Dragons. The forward pack had an outstanding year behind Paul Vaughan who was unlucky not to be selected for New South Whales, The forward pack averaged 1516 meters per game which was the most out of all 16 clubs. This dominance from the Dragons forward pack laid a great platform for England Star Gareth Widdop who's game was given a brand new lease on life. 

The Dragons have lost some big key personnel for 2018 in Josh Dugan (Cronulla Sharks), Taane Milne (Wests Tigers), Russell Packer (Wests Tigers) and Joel Thompson (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles) but haven't failed to bring in a few big name players themselves with the club signing Ben Hunt (Brisbane Broncos) and James Graham (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs). 

Now with the inclusions of Hunt and Graham anything less than finishing inside the Top 8 this season should be considered a disappointing result. With how great Widdop's attacking style has been as of late, adding a stable halves partner in Ben Hunt should make things a whole lot easier and take a lot of pressure away. Packer would have left a huge whole in the Dragons attack if they did not find a "key" replacement however by bringing in James Graham I guess we can throw that out the window as they shouldn't have lost anything. If anything the inclusion of James has only made their forward pack even better.

Now Josh Dugan was a big loss however with the emergence of Matt Dufty, Dragons fans shouldn't have anything to worry about. This guy has a real future ahead of him. He even pushed Dugan to the Centre's over the last 6 rounds. 

My prediction:

I believe the Dragons should have a big year a head of them next year. If they can manage to not have their "typical" slump throughout the middle of the season I can see the Dragons finishing anywhere from 7th to 10th. All depends on the requirement of Dufty bringing his A game from the get go and for the partnership of Widdop and Hunt to gel from Round 1.



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