FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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One could almost sense that Dennis Moran would cross for at least a couple of four-pointers against the Wildcats last Sunday.
It has become habitual for 'the man' to get over the line this season, and it was against Wakefield back in round eleven when he rediscovered his hunger for tries.
Up until that round eleven game Dennis had not once crossed the line. But in the next five-game period the stocky number seven made rapid progress toward the top of the list, with a staggering thirteen tries, including three hat-tricks.
Last Sunday he had that spring in his step, that energy that had him bobbing up in the right spot at the right moment, time after time. His fourth hat-trick was not far away.
And according to his coach it's not down to chance that his feisty number seven is the leading try scorer in Tetley's Super League VIII: "He's a special player that's for sure.
He knows where to be and when. It's an instinctive sense that he has and he backs that up with a very competitive frame of mind."
When Moran crossed for his first try at 'the park' on Sunday, there were natural expectations for more. And so he delivered.
His threesome took him to outright lead in the Super League try scoring race, now two tries ahead of Warrington's Graham Appo, and Bradford's barnstorming winger, Leslie Vainikolo.
MOST TRIES IN TETLEY'S SUPER LEAGUE VIII:
22 Dennis Moran (London) 20 Graham Appo (Warrington) 20 Lesley Vainikolo (Bradford) 19 Brandon Costin (Huddersfield) 19 Colin Best (Hull)
His second try took him to 21 for the season, and then he equalled his 2002 tally of 22 tries when he went in for number three.
That tally last year was enough to get 'the man' the trophy at the Man of Steel Awards for most tries scored in the season, and it could well be enough for a repeat effort this year.
When you stop for a moment and think about this achievement it really does impress. Not just because he's leading the race, not because he has done it in consecutive seasons, but more so because he's a halfback.
Wingers are paid to score tries, and that's what we expect of them.
Full backs too, if they have that instinctive sense that Rea talks of, are generally able to get themselves in the right position at the right time, and build a healthy tally of four-pointers over the course of a season.
Last weekend in Australia's NRL competition, Penrith Panthers' full back Rhys Wesser surpassed the record number of tries in one season for a full back formerly held by Canberra Raider, Brett Mullins (22).
And like Moran, Wesser also landed a hat-trick last round, taking his season tally to 24 for the season, easily enough to earn him the NRL 'most tries' award. Unlike Moran, however, Wesser is a 'specialist' fullback.
One might argue that Dennis is not really a specialist half-back. After all, despite scoring two of his four hat-tricks from the scrumbase, he has played about 45% (eleven from 24 games) of the season in the custodian role. Either way, this amazing ability of his, must be applauded.
"Of course it would be nice but it doesn't even enter my mind on match day," he said. Adding: "If the opportunity (for a try) presents itself, I like to be there, bit it's not something I go out to achieve."
What's more important to me, and what's important to the team right now, is preparing to play well on Saturday night."
We know what we have to do and we'll be doing everything we can to get the result we know we are capable of."
Talking to Dennis, and this will be refreshing news to London fans, you do get the sense that deep down this guy does enjoy scoring tries. In fact, he loves it.
His quiet demeanour belies his burning competitiveness, and one can't help but think that over and above helping his Broncos to their first ever Tetley's Super League Play-Off series, 'the hat-trick man' would like nothing more than to make a consecutive appearance at the Man of Steel Awards.
The next question: Which award should he be there to collect?
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