The Dolphins finally tasted defeat - but what happens next is more important

Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett puts his players through some drills on Suncorp Stadium. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The dust has settled after Wrestlewaynia I, and Brisbane emerged with the title - but for a first loss, it was about as good as it could have been for the Dolphins, who were peppering the Broncos' try line before a length of the field Kotoni Staggs try settled matters.

The bubble was always going to burst, regardless of how much magic dust Wayne Bennett has sprinkled on the squad - but what happens next is arguably even more important than what transpired last Friday.

Jeremy Marshall-King's return is invaluable, having arguably been their best player through the first two weeks of the season, and Isaiya Katoa's knock that kept him out of that loss to the Broncos was thankfully not serious enough to see him miss additional time.

But it's his halves partner Sean O'Sullivan's health that's one of the main issues - he'll miss three to four months of the season with a torn pectoral - meaning that so much of what happens now rests on the shoulders of one of the game's fallen stars.

Anthony Milford's acrimonious departure from the Broncos failed to light a fire in him at Newcastle, and although there were a couple of nice touches in his Dolphins debut, there wasn't a whole lot to fill fans with confidence going into the next few months.

The comments from both Jesse Bromwich and Bennett before round one, the former suggesting that Milford didn't do enough in preseason to beat out the teenager Katoa to a starting spot, and the latter bluntly saying that time was running out on Milford's NRL career.

Whether that was brutal honesty or a deliberate ploy to light a fire under the 28-year-old, who was arguably the most exciting player in the competition when Brisbane stormed to a grand final back in 2018, it doesn't matter now. What matters is if there's still something left in the tank.

O'Sullivan's calm game management complimented Katoa's raw ability perfectly - not something that you'd ever associate with Milford, even at his best - and while nobody should expect a composed and controlled performance, he needs to be careful not to overplay his hand in big moments if the Dolphins are to continue their fine start to the season.

The Dragons are coming off a huge loss and are a club in turmoil - there isn't many teams you'd rather play right now to try and bounce back from a loss, but despite that, Bennett's team are slight outsiders with the sportsbooks.

That feels wrong, given what we've seen so far from each team, but it's a game the Dolphins need to win to keep the good vibes going in Redcliffe.

So far, they've been a cultural phenomenon. Every article you read or fan you speak to has anecdotes about first time fans becoming enamoured with the concept of Phins Up, and they've already gone from pre-season spoon candidates to eyeing off a top eight finish as best-case scenario.

Without O'Sullivan, that might now be a bridge too far. But losing bravely to the undefeated Broncos in an enthralling derby is one thing. Capitulating against the Dragons is entirely another.

In a weird way, this game is more important. Last week, they were playing with house money. This Saturday will tell us so much about how they can bounce back from a loss, as well as how they can handle what is easily the most adversity they've encountered in their brief existence.

Players said after the match on Friday that the squad's depth would hold them in good stead. We're about to see if that's the case.