A dejected Dragons coach Anthony Griffin conceded that Saturday’s 20-16 loss to the Titans was “a hard one to swallow” but believes there are “a lot of lessons” to take out of it.
The Dragons were put to the test early in the game when the Titans got five repeat sets. Although Griffin said it was a “tough” loss he was proud of his team’s defensive efforts.
“We took a real beating in the first 15 minutes, I think they had 14 or 15 sets to our three or four, so that probably drained us a lot,” he said.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our effort, to go back and get control of that game, we dominated the game in the second half, but we just found a way to keep inviting them back in.
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“You get beat in the 90th minute, it’s a hard one to swallow. There’s no question about our endeavour, we’ve just got to get better.
“It hurt but it’s a part of growing as a team and making sure we learn from that.”
A lot of eyes were on young gun fullback Tyrell Sloan who was recalled into the 17 at fullback after Andrew McCullough’s thumb injury forced a reshuffle.
It was the 19-year-old’s first game since being dropped after Round 3 and it was a night he’d probably rather forget.
Sloan notched up 148 running metres and four tackle busts but he also came up with three errors including a bizarre moment where didn’t try to catch a Titans bomb and instead he kicked it into an off-side Ben Hunt.
“He’ll be all right. He’ll learn from that and we’ll help him,” Griffin said of Sloan.
“It’s a big stage and their kicking game was really good. It’s obviously a part of his development.
“But there were a lot of other things that happened in that game from some experienced guys as well that we should have sewn it up earlier.”
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Asked if he just needs to persist with Sloan and the rest of the young guys in the squad, Griffin said: “They’ve got to learn. It’s a really big stage out there.
“I thought our forwards were terrific and I thought our backs got a lot of lessons tonight about how to execute and defend kicks,’ he added.
“Their defensive effort I thought was outstanding with all we had to withstand… they got two (tries) off kicks and a fingernail on one in the 90th minute, everything else we turned away.
“There’s a few old fellas too that can learn from that game and it’s something we’ve all got to lean from.
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“It really hurts but the biggest lessons are the most valuable ones going forward as a group.
“As I said, I couldn’t be prouder of the way we withstood that barrage and then got back to lead 16-10.
“There’s a lot of lessons for us all as a club to make sure that when we get in those positions we can close them off.
“It’s not about young blokes, if you’re in first grade… to put that much into the game and get that close to a win, we’ve got to learn how to finish that.”