WERE the South Sydney that good, or were the Dragons that bad?
As is often the case, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle but a 48-16 pasting at the hands of the red-hot Rabbitohs in Saturday's Charity Shield was far from pleasant viewing for the Red V faithful.
In what was a forgettable start to the Anthony Griffin era, the Dragons conceded six first-half tries - three of them to Cody Walker - and had no answers to a Latrell Mitchell-inspired onslaught, with the clock providing more opposition in the opening 20 minutes.
Mitchell laid on three tries and scored another in an ominous return from the nasty hamstring injury that cut his 2020 campaign short. Walker was equally sublime with a first-half hat-trick in a faultless opening stanza that saw Wayne Bennett's side complete all 21 of their sets with the footy.
The damage wasn't restricted to the edges, with Tom Burgess powering through 115 metres in the first half, which proved his only shift, while Cam Murray also cracked 100 metres in the first 40 minutes.
Things improved slightly for the hosts in the second half, but it came with all the Rabbitohs big guns watching on from the sideline after being given an early mark.
The performance will do little to ease pressure on big-money halves Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, who both had just one run each in the opening half. The Dragons are yet to learn whether a challenge Norman's one-game suspension will be successful but would've expected more than his three carries for 16 metres.
It will leave Griffin with more questions than answers when it comes to the halves picture, with Adam Clune spending the bulk of his second-half stint at dummy-half deputising for Andrew McCullough, while young-gun Jayden Sullivan was not injected until the final 15 minutes.
New skipper Hunt had a blunt response when asked for positives post-game.
To be honest we've got to be a lot better than that or we're going to be spending a lot of time behind the posts.New Dragons skipper Ben Hunt
"There weren't too many," Hunt told Fox Sports.
"To be honest we've got to be a lot better than that or we're going to be spending a lot of time behind the posts."
Jaxson Paulo crossed for the opening try off a long-ball from Mitchell 10 minutes in, with Walker crossing three times in the following 12 minutes, twice on assists from Mitchell.
Dane Gagai got across 15 minutes before the break before the Dragons finally responded through Pereira. The resistance was brief, with Mitchell turning defence into attack on a 70-metre kick return. He crossed for his own four-pointer three rucks later to put an exclamation point on outstanding first-up performance.
The second 40 got off to a poor start for the Dragons, with Ramsey fumbling the ball over the try-line four minutes after the resumption. Mark Nicholls barged through some flimsy defence for the Rabbitohs seventh four-pointer minutes later as they started nudging the biggest score in the annual clash's history.
Ramsey atoned three minutes later with some neat foot work to cross in the corner from a long ball from Matt Dufty, with Paul Vaughan burrowing over six minutes later.
The fightback proved fleeting, with Keaon Koloamatangi carrying three defenders across tp push the margin back out to 28 with 11 minutes left before Josh Mansour grabbed the final four-pointer three minutes from full time.
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