McGregor: We're trying too hard
They're two-thirds of the way through a demanding three-week Queensland swing and with a scoreline that currently reads 62-0 Dragons coach Paul McGregor believes his players are now guilty of trying too hard.
For the first time in the club's history St George Illawarra were kept scoreless for consecutive weeks with Thursday night's 26-0 loss to the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium coming on the back of a 36-0 hiding in North Queensland.
With less than 15 minutes remaining they trailed just 12-0 despite a litany of basic errors but their spluttering attack never looked as though they believed they were going to crack the Broncos' resolute defence.
It has now been 163 minutes of playing time since the Dragons last registered a point but McGregor is adamant that their 70 per cent completion rate and 44 per cent of possession was responsible for their lack of points.
"Their confidence is down a little bit and with that you lose a bit of belief but it's very hard to compete against quality football teams early in the year without the right amount of possession. That's how it is," McGregor said.
"At the moment we're not giving ourselves enough opportunity and everyone is trying hard. They might be trying a little bit too hard but we'll just get to the bottom of it, clean it up and move forward.
"You talk about building pressure and getting a good end to your sets and we kicked the ball dead five times. Then we turned over the ball with some pretty ordinary errors to be totally truthful which we can fix.
"We need to work hard, no doubting that. We all need to work hard and we all need accountability in our roles but when we hold the footy we can throw something."
There was no better example of misplaced intent amongst the Dragons on Thursday night than their captain, Gareth Widdop.
Often when he tried to assert himself on the game he came up with either a poor option or an ordinary end to the set.
In one 15-second period in the first half he put in a poor kick and was then penalised for a high shot on Broncos fullback Darius Boyd when a threw an arm out in frustration on the kick-chase.
He gave away two penalties and had two errors and put his hand up for the Dragons being unable to build any pressure whatsoever on the Brisbane defence.
"It's the simple errors we're putting on ourselves and the harder we're trying the worse we're getting," Widdop said.
"That's just the tale of the story to be honest. I thought we threw some OK shape at times tonight and then it was simple errors and kicks out, seven tackles, it just hurts you.
"The more we're trying the worse it's getting but we're a group of men and we'll go back and work hard for each other. No one is shying away from it and we'll get through it."
The negative reaction to a second straight shut-out on social media was swift from Dragons fans and while he understands their frustration McGregor highlighted the tough assignment his team had faced over the past six days.
"We're not going to sit here and make an excuse because we've got to be better. I feel the frustration from people watching the game that we're not scoring tries," McGregor said.
"I can understand their frustration but I hope they do understand who we've been playing against as well.
"I don't think too many teams are going to go to North Queensland and win and I don't think too many teams are going to go to Brisbane and win and we've just had them two weeks in a row.
"We're playing against two quality sides in six days and you don't get anywhere near the completion rate you need and don't build any pressure and they get up the other end and score two tries off kicks and the game's gone."