Dragons coach Steve Price has effectively put his side on notice after a "soft" performance in being trounced 38-6 by the Bulldogs.
Price pulled no punches in the aftermath of his side's worst performance of the year, admitting changes to the 17 that never looked like troubling the competition leaders were imminent - though he would not be drawn on whether prize recruit Benji Marshall would be rushed back into the side.
"A very soft performance, there is no excuse, that was soft," was how Price described the seven-tries-to-two thrashing, while also threatening to wield the selection axe after the Dragons' fifth loss in six starts.
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"The reserve grade team's up near the top of the table so I'll look at that video again tonight and make some calls [on possible changes]."
Price said the loss was particularly disappointing given that all the talk out of the St. George Illawarra camp in the pre-game lead-up had been about aiming up against the table-topping Bulldogs.
"We had a lot to play for today and they're a quality football team," he said.
"We're about being brutally honest as a coaching group and a playing group, I'm not a bloke to mince my words and I know we're definitely much better than that.
"We're a proud footy club and I know what type of playing group I've got and I know we're much better than what we dished up today. That's what really annoys me."
With the Dragons having already been found wanting in the middle in previous defeats at the hands of the Rabbitohs and the Roosters, the Bulldogs' big men ran riot up the middle third of the field, running for a combined 1812 metres and getting away 19 offloads as the likes of Sam Kasiano, James Graham and Tony Williams repeatedly got their arms free.
Despite the significant size difference between the two packs, Price dismissed the notion his side needed more size up-front in order to be competitive, insisting the performance was not a fair indication of what the Dragons are capable of.
"That's irrelevant ... at the end of the day it's about the intent in what you do and how you apply yourself and there wasn't any of that from the outset," he said.
"We haven't been like that all year. I know we've got a good football team, we have. We just didn't show that today.
"We started the season really well. We had a couple of inconsistent performances after that but we played some reasonable footy after those three wins and I'd like to think it's just a one-off thing today."