St George Illawarra boss Paul McGregor has lauded his troops for keeping the faith after breaking a three-match NRL losing streak against the Warriors on Friday.
The Dragons romped to a 30-14 victory in Hamilton, wreaking havoc through the middle of the field and forcing 57 missed tackles from their opponents.
They also managed 20 offloads and nine line breaks as they nabbed six tries – four down their left edge – on the way to a pressure-lifting victory.
The Dragons, while never being completely outplayed, had lost three matches on the bounce against the Roosters, Storm and Sharks before heading across the ditch.
McGregor said his fourth-placed side’s display in dour Waikato conditions, against a dangerous opponent, was an outstanding result.
“The boys really deserve what they’ve done tonight, come here with a really good attitude and worked hard throughout the week – made the opposition miss 57 tackles, doesn’t happen often in the NRL,” McGregor said.
“Our forward pack, I thought they dominated tonight, had a really good opening to the game and had a lot of support around the footy, created a lot of opportunities.”
Despite their fruitful efforts down the left flank, McGregor denied his side had specifically targeted rookie Warriors winger Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
The side’s left edge – centre Tim Lafai and stand-in winger Kalifa Faifai Loa – had simply capitalised upon the forwards’ hard work to nab four-pointers.
They scored half the side’s tries between them.
“The platform was laid by everyone, not just the left edge – the left edge got to finish with quality, and they worked hard,” McGregor said.
“If there’s numbers down the short side we’ll take it, and if they fill up the short side (then) we’ll go to the open side.”
McGregor also backed a number of his troops – including in-form prop Paul Vaughan – for Blues selection in this year’s State of Origin series, saying any experience they pick up in the representative environment would only help at club level.