Disappointed St George Illawarra Dragons coach Steve Price has described his side's 34-14 loss to the Sydney Roosters in the traditional Anzac Day match as one that his side can build on.
While the Anzac Cup will remain in Bondi for another year, Price emphasised it just wasn't up to the Dragons standards – although he remained optimistic in light of the Dragons' four wins from eight starts to kick off the season.
"We want to get back to being a benchmark footy club. We mark ourselves hard and we want to be a little bit higher than where we are today, but prior to today's game I was really pleased with where we've been going," Price noted in the post-match media conference.
"There are areas in our game which we've been doing really, really well to start the season and there were signs there today but we weren't that flash... we're still learning about ourselves.
"It's a learning curve and it's important we look for continued improvement."
While the Dragons appeared to be building from their solid 20-10 win in Round 7, Price admitted that their lack of possession and opportunities at attacking the Roosters try-line was the difference when all was said and done.
"They were warming into their game from last week and we knew what we were going to get and I just thought that first period there where we had no field possession sucked a fair bit of fuel out of us," Price said.
"I thought our lack of discipline too there, especially in the first half really bogged us down.
"We had no field position in that first half and to go in [to half time] not far behind... the next part of the game, the next 15 to 18 minutes [after Friend's try] we started to get some line speed, started to get a little bit more intent in our game and earn the right but they were a little bit too good for us today."
While his coach made mention that he was his best player on ground, Dragons captain Ben Creagh remained stern about the poor display shown by his men following the loss.
"The amount of dropped ball we had and penalties we gifted them, [there were] a few tries there in the first half from just the amount of defence we did," Creagh said.
"It was pretty tough but coming in at halftime we were in there with an opportunity but the second half we did a fair bit of defending... and we paid for it at times."
The NRL will have a week off with Representative Round being played out next weekend, meaning the Dragons will have a 16-day turnaround to tweak their game plan as they shift their focus to the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.