BFNL – Round 10 defeat looming as Dragons’ line in the sand moment of 2018

Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes.
Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes.

THE frustration of its round 10 loss to Golden Square is shaping as the line in the sand moment for Sandhurst this BFNL season.

The Dragons’ 29-point defeat to the Bulldogs at Wade Street that day left them with a 5-5 record, out of the top five and seemingly pretender rather than contender.

But fast forward five rounds and the Dragons are the form team of the competition with five wins on the trot – including the big scalp of Strathfieldsaye – and are now third on the ladder.

“Looking back, it’s probably the frustration of that Golden Square game halfway through the season where the mindset of the players has really started to change,” Dragons skipper Blair Holmes said on Friday.

“We’ve got a lot of experience in the team with players who have played in big games and won flags, so we knew where we were at and where we needed to get to.”

Sandhurst's 2018 season.

Sandhurst's 2018 season.

One of the keys to the Dragons’ revival in the second half of the season has been a lift in their pressure over a sustained period, led by Holmes, that was never more evident than the heat they applied to the Storm in their 46-point win three weeks ago at the QEO.

“You can always work on your skills, but when it comes to pressure and intensity, anyone can do that… you don’t need to be the most gifted player to bring pressure,” Holmes said.

“We have spoken a lot about that over the past month and our pressure has definitely gone up a level. We had it there earlier in the season, but it was in patches, whereas we’re keeping it up for whole games now.”

And bringing that tackling intensity again is going to be vital on Saturday when the Dragons meet Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park in the match of the round.

It’s a clash of second v third between two opponents that were separated by just one point in round seven when the Hawks won by the barest of margins.

The Dragons’ defence – which has conceded an average of just 41 per game in its past five games – has been strengthened by the return of the creative Codie Price and Josh Hann, while the Hawks also have a key inclusion in swingman Brenton Conforti for suspended young gun Gedd Hommelhoff.

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