NRLW 2019: Clash across the ditch do or die for Dragons

FIRED UP: Dragons halfback Maddie Studdon says her side has no more chances in their NRLW premiership bid. Picture: NRL Photos
FIRED UP: Dragons halfback Maddie Studdon says her side has no more chances in their NRLW premiership bid. Picture: NRL Photos

THERE'S only a tiny margin for error in a condensed NRLW season and Dragons halfback Maddie Studdon knows her side has already used theirs up.

A stacked roster saw the Dragons highly fancied in premiership discussions before the season kicked off, but a 14-4 opening round loss to Brisbane has steepened the climb to the decider.

It sees them bottom of the four-team ladder and facing a must-win clash against the Warriors in New Zealand on Sunday.

It's not too dissimilar to what Studdon experienced with the Roosters last season, that star-studded side dropping it's first match before regrouping to reach the grand final.

It leaves her confident the Dragons can replicate that run, but the 24-year-old knows there are no more chances for her side.

"The NRLW's a short season, there's a lot of pressure and a lot of high expectations," Studdon said.

"Last year we were called the favourites [at the Roosters], now we're getting called the favourites here at the Dragons, but that means nothing until you get out on the field.

"Last week was probably a bit of a wake-up call, it's what we needed, and we're very fired up to get back out there on the field and prove a point this week.

"There's some areas in our game we definitely need to work on but we're an experienced team, we've got a good coaching staff behind us, and I'm sure we'll pull it together this week."

There's no secret as to what those areas are, with the Dragons enjoying a greater share of possession against the Broncos but making 11 errors.

They completed at just 62 per cent in the second half despite being on the right side of an 8-3 penalty count but Studdon says it's a simple fix.

"We know what we need to work on and they're small errors we can fix easily," Studdon said.

"The Broncos are a strong team and we knew they were going to be, they haven't lost a game, but we just kept marching them up the field, giving them repeat sets and that's when they barged over.

"We've watched the game and it wasn't as bad as we thought it was, we still looked pretty good out there. They defended well and their tries came off our errors and our penalties.

"We're in the NRLW now, we can't be making those silly mistakes. That's what cost us the game."

Week one was also the first hit-out for a new-look spine of Studdon, Brittany Breayley, Botille Vette-Welsh and halves partner Kimiora Nati. Studdon's confident they'll be better for the first-up run.

"It's a brand new spine. I've worked with Britto before and a little bit with Bo in the City side," Studdon said.

"With Kimi there we're getting used to each other and hopefully against the Warriors this week we'll keep building those combinations and just be a bit smarter in what we do and where we get to on the field.

"We didn't have a lot of possession in good ball. I think if we get more possession in that 20-30 [metre] zone we'll look much better."

This story Clash across the ditch do-or-die for Dragons first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.