Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
It may have taken a while, but heeding some words of wisdom given more than five years ago had an instant impact for St George Illawarra coach Nathan Brown.
"When you see coaches or clubs that keep changing their halves, you just can't get any flow or any consistency."
Brown last week assured new pairing Jamie Soward and Rangi Chase he would stick with them through thick and thin, and he was quickly rewarded when the duo led the Dragons to a morale-boosting 30-12 NRL second round win over Gold Coast on Monday night.
"Regardless of what happened they were going to be our halves next week and the week after and the week after because the coaches are confident and the players are confident," Brown said.
"They gave us some good results last year and it seemed a good way to go."
Soward terrorised the Titans with a pinpoint kicking game while Chase proved the perfect link man to centres Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper.
Having played most of the season-opening loss to Wests Tigers at hooker, Chase revelled in the extra space provided at five-eighth.
He gave Cooper and Gasnier plenty of early ball, but what would have pleased Brown just as much was his decision-making and confidence, particularly the grubber for Gasnier's try when the Titans had rushed up too fast and the superb individual four-pointer when he ran at an uncertain Gold Coast defence.
"It was good to finally do what we trained to do, obviously we didn't do it in the first round but we knew we could do it if we stuck to our game plan," Chase said.
"I've got the opportunity now to cement the No.6, that's what I'm going to be doing over the next month or so.
"I like to play five-eighth ... I like getting the ball out wide and getting the ball to Gaz and sometimes I can run and go myself.."
After an eight-day turnaround between their first two matches, the Dragons now have just five days to prepare for Saturday night's trip to Canberra to face the Raiders.