It was just another night at Kogarah Jubilee and it wasn't a good start. I wondered if the team would begin season 2018 in a similar fashion?Then the whistle went and Matt Dufty picked up the pill and ran with it. And ran, and ran and ran.... The pie began to taste great, I squashed the ants and queued up for more Champagne footy. Bring it on.
What a difference a new season makes, and a new fullback, a halfback, a blonde lock and some fit-looking forwards.
Thoughts of 'slippery' Morris, Brian Johnson and Scott Gourley came flooding back. Finally some speed, ball runners and marquee players to feast your eyes on.
There is no argument that players that have left, been replaced, retired or plainly have not lived up to expectations were no less committed when wearing the famous Red V but when it's out with the old and in with the new, an expectation that the 'new' will be better than the 'old' is justified.
The last few seasons have seen plenty of second-hand plays and damaged goods running about but this year is going to be different. Why? Because I could feel it in my water at halftime.
The incisive running of a fullback; the deft passing and intercepting skills of a canny halfback; and the pure 'no guts no glory' attitude of a lock forward who slots in perfectly alongside a pack that is the buttress of the team: That'll do me.
Melbourne Storm can have, or did have a strong spine but the Dragons in 2018 have put meat on the team's entire skeleton that has previously been brittle.
If 'O' is for optimism, round one of the 2018 NRL Premiership gave Dragons' fans plenty to be positive about. Except, the left side defence continues to be the archilles heel. Lafai and McDonald were left clutching at air, letting in two tries with the simplest of ease. It was ugly to watch. Harsh judge? Early days? Granted. But if a one-eyed red and white supporter was to draw a line across the field on thursday night, it broke at outside centre.
Such frailties can and must be fixed and should not detract from the real show that was in the middle. With every carry the forwards made metres. Men of Illawarra steel without sanctions they are. Graham's determined returns from in goal were exceptional. What a buy. V8 Vaughan ripped in as did all of the men in the engine room.
Mention must be made of Leeson Ah Mau. The man known as the 'turtle' carries the weight of expectation on his back. But you wouldn't know it. He is an absolute powerhouse and seldom receives the out and out praise and adulation reserved for a 300 gamer or player in the starting side. Was he actually brought down on Thursday night? I think not. He carried Lodge and the like for multiple metres.
The Dragons have been on the hunt for a halfback and have landed Ben. Brilliant Ben. Skipper Widdop has a genuine partner now. A fully fit and threatening Aitken has returned. He's a gun, just like Matt Dufty the weapon at the back.
There will be losses and there will be wins but if fast, committed and creative footy is played – it's a win win for Dragons' fans.
At game's end the mood remained buoyant on the hill and there was no SOS or flares to distract from the decisive win. In 2018, keep the faith and the smile on your dial for this team's train has left the station and is on time. Next stop Cronulla.
What's your view?