ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA’S heavy loss to the Brisbane Broncos has not been ignored by bookies, with Sportsbet.com.au moving the Dragons onto the third line of betting for the wooden spoon at $7.00.
The Dragons – who were kept scoreless for the second week in a row – started round 6 as $11.00 outsiders to have the least amount of wins in 2016, but after a second consecutive week in which they have failed to trouble the scorers St George were moved into joint third for the spoon alongside the West Tigers.
WilliamHill.com.au have even less faith in the Dragons, moving them to outright third in the market at $6.00.
The winless Newcastle Knights remain the favourites for the wooden spoon with Sportsbet.com.au at $2.00.
The back-to-back scoreless losses for the Dragons marks the first time a NRL team has not scored in consecutive matches since the Cronulla Sharks’ three-match drought back in 2014.
The Dragons also have the worst offensive record in the National Rugby League, with only 40 points to their names after six rounds of football.
Baring a calamitous error, by the conclusion of round 6 the second worst offence in the league – currently the Parramatta Eels – will have more than double the amount of points St George currently has.
The Dragons – who were coming off a tough, five-day turnaround after facing the North Queensland Cowboys – were only 12 points down at half time but were blown away late by Wayne Bennett’s Brisbane Broncos.
Dragons’ coach Paul McGregor said he could not fault the effort of his players’ in the aftermath of the loss.
“(Brisbane) did score 14 points in the last 15 minutes, but that was on the back end of a five-day turnaround and a North Queensland trip and they are a quality side,” he said.
“I’m comfortable with their effort and commitment to it.
“It’s just we’ve got to be a lot more intelligent and a lot more clinical.”
McGregor blamed his side’s back-to-back scoreless efforts on the tough schedule which saw them face last year’s Grand Finalists in consecutive weeks.
“I hope … people can look at the whole picture.” he said.
“Not many teams are going to leave Brisbane or Townsville with two points … we got them back to back on a short turnaround,”
McGregor believes if his side improve their offensive sets their form will turn around against weaker opposition.
“It is simple, if we don’t hold the ball and don’t complete at a high percentage we cannot compete — particularly against quality sides like the one we played tonight.”
Not everyone shares McGregor’s optimism.
Fox Sports analyst Braith Anasta sensationally suggested that the majority of the teams in the NRL do not rate the Dragons.
“Opposition teams aren’t respecting them,” Anasta said.
“Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said the week before that ‘they didn’t throw anything at us’ and JT (Thurston) just said they tossed up nothing – it’s not good signs for the Dragons.”
The news does not get better for the Dragons either, with Paul McGregor’s men facing an extended period without star playmaker Benji Marshall, who was a late withdrawal against the Broncos with hamstring tightness.
St George’s next match is against the surprise packet of the 2016 season the Gold Coast Titans away at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday afternoon.