Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
Having staved off the executioner last weekend, a trip to Canberra to face NRL bogey-team the Raiders would have been the last thing on St George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown's wish list.
The Dragons, much to Brown's annual dismay, have struggled to overcome the green machine in the nation's capital, despite travelling down with line-ups dripping with representative talent.
Since 2000, they have won only once at Canberra Stadium, their desperation to overcome the Raiders so great that last year they instituted a penalty jar where players were fined in the week leading up to the game for complaining about how cold it would be in Canberra.
This year the cold won't be their biggest concern, instead it will be trying to save Brown's job.
While the Dragons eased the pressure on Brown with an emphatic win over the Titans last weekend, the players and coaching staff know they are only one loss away from feeling the same heat again.
The one-time Test representative has regularly been shifted from the halves to fullback in recent years and, while he maintains he's happy to play anywhere, Hornby admits he prefers fullback.
"I think it takes a lot of the pressure off me in attack, I don't have to organise anything in regards to working out where the forwards are and all that kind of stuff, I can just pop up wherever I like," Hornby said.
"I've always said I don't mind where I play in the side, but I think it's just the best combination for the team at this stage.
"So I think we're going to run with this and I'm happy to be at fullback, it's where I've played most of my career."
Raiders coach Neil Henry is already dealing with injury-forced changes after just two games.
Exciting fullback William Zillman is out for the season and faces his second knee reconstruction, while prop Scott Logan copped three hairline fractures to his cheekbones and could be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
Utility Bronx Goodwin will start at the back with Colin Best on the wing.
Despite the early-season changes, Henry is confident the Raiders are showing signs of a finals-bound side.
"I think there's a bit of grit there," he said.
"I think there's a bit more technique, there's a bit more confidence in the shape of our defensive line and our commitment's there."