Dragons weren't first-grade standard: Dugan
After back-to-back demoralising losses to the Cowboys and Broncos, the Dragons head to the Gold Coast this weekend seeking to end their horror Queensland journey on a high note.
The Red V have been outscored 62-0 over the past fortnight against last year's grand finalists, and have scored just 40 points through the first six rounds at a lowly average of 6.66 per game.
Dragons fullback Josh Dugan admits his side simply hasn't been good enough, and refused to offer up any excuses to account for the attacking slump.
"We haven't been up to first grade standard over the last couple of weeks, and that's no secret. To not score a point in two weeks is pretty disappointing and to leak that many points as well is disappointing," Dugan said.
"I feel like we're creating opportunities and we've just got to finish them. The last couple of weeks there have been a couple of times where that one extra pass or just being able to finish the try off [has cost us].
"It just comes down to that little bit of concentration, which I think if we didn't have to defend too much, we might have a little more energy in attack and finish those plays off."
Dugan cited a specific turnover in the game at Suncorp where a simple error in good field position led directly to a try at the other end.
"I think we had a good ball set [against the Broncos] and straight off the tap we knocked on and then they rolled down the field and I think they may have scored that set," the Dragons fullback said.
"We've just got to get that confidence back and stop being so hard on ourselves. I think we're too worried about dropping the ball and then we do make the error and get down on ourselves.
"For the next few sets we're worried about what we're going to do and how we're going to fix it. We've just got to move on from it and get on with the next job."
Errors have been hurting the Dragons over the past fortnight, with the Red V completing at just 56 per cent in Townsville, before backing it up with a 70 per cent effort in Brisbane. That forced them to make 385 tackles against the Broncos and 373 against the Cowboys; nearly 150 more than their opponents combined.
"I felt like our attack over the last couple of weeks has been better, but we're not giving ourselves a chance," a frustrated Dugan said.
"We're dropping too much ball and in turn we're defending too much so we've got no gas to try to create anything. We're trying to score points, but sometimes we're trying too hard and that can be our downfall.
"There are always going to be critics and everyone has their opinion, but we're just worrying about ourselves and what we have to fix behind here.
"If you look at the games, we played the two best teams in the competition – the grand finalists from last year – and I felt like we were in both games until about 18 [minutes] to go against the Cowboys and then they blew us off the park and then the same with 15 to go against the Broncos."
Dugan says it's not just the handling errors that are hurting the Dragons.
"We're not helping ourselves by not completing, but also kicking the ball dead on the last tackle and not having the right option for our last plays," he said.
"I think we gave away five 20 metres restarts last week and that's not good enough. You're doing 35 extra tackles when you could be getting repeat sets and building pressure. I think that's what we've been lacking in the last few weeks.
"You look at the Souths game [which the Dragons won 8-6] and I think we had five repeat sets."