St George Illawarra Dragons coach Paul McGregor hails 'best ever' win - and sets sights on Canterbury Bulldogs

All smiles: St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor was a happy man after the Dragons' crucial win over the Wests Tigers. Picture: John Veage
All smiles: St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor was a happy man after the Dragons' crucial win over the Wests Tigers. Picture: John Veage

Paul McGregor described St George Illawarra’s gutsy win over the Wests Tigers as his best as a coach.

The Dragons kept their top four hopes alive with a 20-10 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night.

And they had to do it the hard way.

Without captain Gareth Widdop and State of Origin prop Paul Vaughan through injury, the Dragons had lost five of their last six matches to plummet from the top of the table to simply battling to maintain a top four place.

After weeks of intense speculation and criticism from experts and even the club’s own fans, the Dragons lifted in front of a hostile, sold out crowd at Leichhardt Oval to score a famous win. One that could get their campaign back on track.

“Under the circumstances I’d nearly say it’s the best win I’ve had as a coach since I’ve been at the club,” McGregor said.

“Considering the start of the game, six-nil penalty count [against us], one in the [sin] bin, the opposition playing for their season, the scrutiny that players and staff have been under.          

Under the circumstances I’d nearly say it’s the best win I’ve had as a coach since I’ve been at the club.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor

“To come out and have the resolve we had today shows what we’ve built our year on from round one.”

The Dragons have the chance to consolidate their top four place when they host Canterbury at Jubilee Oval on Sunday.

The red V hold onto fourth by just five for and against points from Penrith and 17 from local rivals Cronulla.

The Bulldogs, who will play at Kogarah for the first time since 2013, all but avoided the wooden spoon with an upset one-point win over the finals-bound New Zealand Warriors.

But with South Sydney, Penrith and the Sydney Roosters also losing at the weekend St George Illawarra have the chance to keep looking up the table, rather than below.

The gritty win over the Tigers could prove to be the turning point of their season.

“If we back up that effort and we connect like we did and we have the same energy against Canterbury it could be,” McGregor said.

“It’s about consistency now. That’s the beautiful thing about our first 16, 17 weeks. We were the most consistent side, that’s why we were in the top two. 

“That consistency dropped off in the last month. And it was across the park [against the Tigers] pretty fair.

“Discipline wise we’ve got to improve again but certainly if we show that energy, why not?”

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