ST GEORGE Illawarra under-20s coach Justin Holbrook hopes his charges’ mid-season revival will continue as the side push towards a top-eight finish.
After a slow start, in which the team lost their opening three matches of the season, the Dragons now sit two points outside a
The side have had a purple patch of form winning four of their past five matches.
‘‘It took us a while to gel,’’ Holbrook said. ‘‘We have improved a lot but we still have a fair way to go to make a dint this year.
‘‘We just weren’t playing well at the start of the year after trying to work out our best players in their best positions and a combination of other things.
‘‘We’re starting to play OK.’’
Holbrook, who played first grade for Sydney Roosters, Newcastle and Penrith, is in his first year at the Dragons, having coached Canterbury to NSW Cup glory last year.
St George Illawarra have struggled in recent years, having missed the finals for the past two seasons.
‘‘We kept getting beat at the back end of games,’’ Holbrook said.
‘‘We weren’t playing that bad but we struggled to play for the full 80 minutes.
‘‘It took our blokes a while to work that out.’’
The side showed their resilience in their last start win against Canberra before having the bye last weekend.
Down 26-6 in the early stages of the second half, the side finished with a flurry of tries to record an unlikely 30-22 win.
‘‘For our blokes to hang in there was excellent,’’ Holbrook said. ‘‘We are aiming for a finals finish but we’ve got to keep winning. We definitely are not in a safe position.’’
Fullback Evander Cummins has starred for St George Illawarra, topping the competition in line breaks, tackle breaks and total metres.
Cummins has averaged almost two line breaks a game.
‘‘He has been playing really well,’’ Holbrook said. ‘‘I’m not too sure [how far away from first grade he is] but he is doing most things pretty well and is exciting.
‘‘I think [fullback is his best position] but when you’ve got talented players they can end up popping up in other positions.’’
Holbrook also nominated the team’s top try-scorer Charly Runciman (13) and captain Jack Buchanan, a prop, as other standout performers.
Aside from his coaching position, Holbrook doubles as a partnership executive for the club and mingles with sponsors just moments after matches.
‘‘It’s a lot easier to do after a win,’’ Holbrook said. ‘‘It’s a good blend to get to mix with business people who are also interested in the club.
‘‘It can be hard straight after a loss but that’s part of the job.’’