Paul McGregor can`t wait for the domestic season to start after his St George Illawarra Dragons saw off the challenge of Warrington Wolves in the World Club Series opener.
The fast-approaching National Rugby League campaign was always going to be highly anticipated by McGregor as he takes charge of the Dragons full-time following Steve Price`s sacking last May.
And now he has all the more reason to look forward to next month`s opener with Melbourne Storm after Josh Dugan`s second-half try led the Dragons to an 18-12 victory over Warrington on Friday.
Tyson Frizell and Joel Thompson had twice put the Dragons ahead at the Halliwell Jones Stadium only for home scores for Gareth O`Brien and Ryan Atkins to bring the hosts level.
But man of the match Dugan made the most of Daryl Clark fumbling a Benji Marshall kick to hand the Dragons victory and get McGregor excited about his first full season in charge.
"I thought in the first half we had about 80 per cent of the ball going in at half-time and after that Warrington threw a fair bit of footy at us but we held on," McGregor said.
"We forced a few errors from them in the first 15 minutes of the second half and managed to get some great field position at times.
"And in the end I thought it was a great effort from the boys to dig deep and hold on and this is a great backdrop for our round one match next month.
"This was an outstanding victory. We are a young group and we are building so this is a great victory.
"We had to leave a few of the boys out there longer than we wanted for one reason or another, so for them to come through that is fantastic.
"This is a young group and we can really build on this now for round one and it is delightful to see that."The game was barely a minute old when Frizell made former North Queensland Cowboy Ashton Sims pay for an early knock on as the Wales international went over, Gareth Widdop adding the extras.
But O`Brien levelled on 12 minutes as he raced through a gap 40 metres out before selling Dugan a dummy to dot down, the stand-off picking himself up to split the posts.
The Dragons were six points ahead again when Thompson just beat ex-Canberra Raider Joel Monaghan to a Widdop low kick.
But they led by just two points at half-time as Atkins managed to squirm his way over the tryline despite three Dragons hanging on to him.
However, the Dragons did a better job of shutting the door after the restart and Warrington couldn`t find a third try, O`Brien levelling with a penalty just before the hour mark.
This wasn`t a problem for the Dragons though as Clark failed to gather a Marshall kick and Dugan pounced to give the NRL first blood in the revamped World Club Series.
And Warrington`s Australian head coach Tony Smith admitted his side had been their own worst enemy.
"I thought we lacked a bit of game control," Smith said. "We didn`t show enough patience in the second half.
"We over kicked at times and looked a bit rushed at times and in general we just didn`t have enough patience in that second half.
"We weren`t physical enough in the first half and in the second half we were a bit more physical but then we lost our heads at times, so it was frustrating."