Dragons show ruthless streak
Those searching for signs of a premiership hangover might have to look a bit harder following St George Illawarra's 21-15 World Club Challenge victory over Wigan.
The Dragons finetuned their preparations for their NRL title defence by shutting down the Super League champions in the second half on a cold, clear Sunday evening at DW Stadium.
After the home side jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the opening four minutes, the Dragons steadily overpowered the hosts and did not concede a point in the second half for the fifth straight match.
The four tries to two victory made the Dragons the first Australian side to complete the treble of minor premiers, premiers and World Club Challenge winners for almost two decades.
Even hard to please coach Wayne Bennett, who watched the game from Brisbane after heading home early for family reasons, was understood to be happy with his side's resolve.
"I thought we showed a lot of steel there," said stand-in Dragons coach Steve Price.
"They threw a lot at us."
Man of the match Brett Morris, who scored two tries in a superb performance down the left flank, felt the Dragons had lost none of their hunger following last year's drought-breaking premiership.
"I think so, I think we have kicked off where we left last year," he said.
"There is a lot of belief in the side and the players in their positions.
"We go out there to do a job and that is what we did tonight."
The NRL titleholders were joined in the dressing rooms for the post-match celebrations by the Sydney-raised Socceroos and Everton star Tim Cahill.
The Dragons were due to fly out of London on Monday morning before turning their attention to their round one NRL clash against the Gold Coast on March 12 at Skilled Park.
Wigan could barely have made a better start with playmaker Paul Deacon's pinpoint kick in the second minute floating beyond the reach of opposite number Jamie Soward into the arms of an airborne George Carmont for the opening try.
Deacon slotted a penalty soon afterwards before Morris and Matt Cooper started finding plenty of holes in Wigan's right-sided defence as the Dragons grabbed a 10-8 lead in the 16th minute.
But Wigan isolated Soward, who was defending in the centres, and the five eighth failed to commit as Carmont scored his second try in the 22nd minute.
For the rest of the match, they would not breach the Dragons' line again.
Morris showed his knack for finding the tryline 10 minutes before halftime by beating three defenders but Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins made it a 15-14 halftime lead for his side with a field goal just before the siren.
As suits the Dragons, the match turned into a real grind in the second half with rookie hooker Cameron King barging over in the 55th minute from close range for the winning try.
Unfortunately for him, a few minutes later he injured his pectoral muscle in a tackle and is expected to be out for several months.
Soward added a bit of safety in the 70th minute with a field goal that pushed his side's lead out to six points.
With less than four minutes on the clock, dangerous Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins was controversially taken out by opposite number Darius Boyd after kicking ahead with the Dragons lucky to concede only a penalty from French referee Thierry Alibert.