Few gave the St George Illawarra Dragons any hope.
Most gave them no hope at all.
Even many of the staunchest Dragons fans, who can often prove to be their team’s biggest critics, thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel …… but it was a train called the Brisbane Broncos who would smash right through the Red V.
The fact the game was at the Brisbane Broncos’ home fortress of the Suncorp Stadium made the outlook for the Dragons’ NRL final on Sunday even worse.
There had even been pre-game suggestions in some sections of the media the Broncos had wanted to meet the Dragons in the finals and had orchestrated the clash by deliberately not trying to score any more tries in their clash the week before.
The bookies had the Dragons listed as rank outsiders in a two-horse race.
A crowd of 47,000 mainly Broncos fans filled the stadium ready to witness a slaughter of the Dragons.
Yet, someone forgot to tell the Dragons.
The Dragons, defied the odds, the critics and the fans to completely smash the Broncos and end their season.
Even as some of the Dragons key players went down with injury the side managed to fight on to record a historic 48-18 victory.
The win will be one for the ages.
“It’s an outstanding victory,” Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.
He added, as a shot between the eyes of critics: “Are we the form team now we’ve won three of the last four?”.
Unfortunately the victory came at a cost for the Dragons.
Widdop had been nursing a shoulder going into the clash but dislocated it during the game and will now be out for the season.
Hard man James Graham will need to pass rigorous testing after being knocked unconscious and Jack de Belin will be under an injury cloud after a recurrence of a foot injury during the game.
It will mean the Dragons will start as underdogs against South Sydney in a semi-final at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Clearly, just how they like it.
The Dragons should now relish the tag of the “giant killers”.