FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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This season for the defending premiers has been one of stages. The club was involved in a series of controversial issues before the season even started. Despite the issues the side also got involved in some positive pre-season news, such as becoming the first Australian team since the Sydney Roosters in 2003 to win the World Club Challenge.
The side had their fair share of troubles early, losing their first four games. The return of Brett Stewart gave them two strong wins to kick the season off, but a season-threatening injury to the representative fullback left the club needing to win without him to avoid a shock wooden spoon.
The spark came from Jamie Lyon, who led the side to a stunning win over the Broncos not long after the May test match. This began their form run that runs into the second half of the season. The side are starting to find their stride even without Stewart. The form of Jamie Lyon, Glenn Stewart and Matt Orford have kept this side strong over the last few years and are starting to settle in for the haul in 2009. The juniors of the club have also played strong for the first half of the season, leaving Manly fans excited for the future.
Other than their two strong wins against Wests and Souths with Brett Stewart firing, the pinnacle of the season so far has been that famed win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. The Sea Eagles were down and out early in the match but the premiers managed to keep a stranglehold on the contest grounding out a victory. It was a major improvement from their opening month of the season, particularly their performance in the opening round against the new-look Bulldogs. The plays weren't there, the wins weren't coming. It was obvious something wasn't right. The side was said to be a one-man team, but with the recent form the future seems brighter for the fans of the Brookvale boys.
The road to the finals shows that Season 2009 isn't dead yet for the Sea Eagles. The finals are still a chance. The road is Raiders (H), Bye, Bulldogs (H), Dragons (A), Sharks (A), Knights (H), Tigers (A), Rabbitohs (H), Roosters (A), Storm (A), Sharks (H), Titans (H).
Two months in the fans were sure Manly were dead. In two months time they could be anywhere on the table nearly. The premiers aren't gone yet. Who knows where they will finish up?