RUGBY LEAGUE - CHARITY SHIELD
Written off as lightweights after a Charity Shield mauling, Dragons skipper Ben Creagh says his side are determined to turn the tables on a heavyweight Rabbitohs pack this week.
The ease with which the Burgess-led Rabbitohs rolled forward in the Charity Shield clash five weeks ago led many to dismiss the Dragons as too small to make an impact.
Five weeks later the Dragons are leading the competition with three wins from four games on the back of a mobile forward pack thriving under rule changes aimed at speeding up the ruck.
In contrast the Rabbitohs big men were run off their feet by smaller packs in three straight losses as they struggled with the faster ruck speeds.
Creagh said the rule changes limiting the number of defenders in the tackle favoured the Dragons over the first four rounds.
"The game has definitely quickened up," Creagh said.
"The rucks aren't as slow and if you find your front and play the ball quick you get rewarded.
"A lot of teams are doing that ... the Broncos did it to us on the weekend.
"I think as the season goes on you'll see it get quicker and quicker.
"It's not too much fun if you've got a bit of extra weight on board but that's just how it's going to be from now on."
Creagh said the faster games also brought the Dragons' quality outside backs into the game and could give the Dragons, who welcome the return of superstar Josh Dugan this week, an edge against the Rabbitohs.
"If you play fast and use your outside backs as much as you can to test other forward packs you have a fair bit of of joy," he said.
"Dylan [Farrell] and Gerard [Beale] have been two of our best players and so have Brett [Morris] and Jason [Nightingale] with the amount of work they've been doing ... Quinny [Adam Quinlan] as well.
"That definitely helps our forwards, having those quick guys around the middle testing out forwards who are already tired, who are already on the back foot is what you need," he said.
After three straight wins to open the season a similarly lightweight Broncos pack gave the Dragons a lesson in playing quick last week, running them off their feet from the outset to hand them a 36-20 defeat.
Creagh, who hasn't forgotten the Charity Shield loss, said the Dragons cannot afford to give the monster Rabbitohs pack the same latitude.