'Survival mode' bites Dragons again
St George Illawarra failed to score a second-half try for the fifth straight game in Sunday's 26-10 loss to the Warriors, with Kalifa Faifai Loa believing his side are trying not to lose rather than trying to win.
After scoring twice inside the opening 40 minutes in Auckland the Red V weren't able to go on with the job, despite enjoying plenty of possession deep inside attacking territory, against a Warriors side who have leaked the third-most points in the NRL Telstra Premiership through the opening nine games.
Speaking to NRL.com after the match, Faifai Loa said the Dragons need to ditch their conservative approach if they are to start putting together 80-minute performances in 2016.
"I think we go in survival mode, like every time we score we just try and hold onto the lead," Faifai Loa said.
"If we had led at half-time [against the Warriors] then we could have come out and survived like we have the last couple of weeks, but you can't think like that when you are behind.
"Obviously we need to work on our second half moves to help get us some wins. The last five weeks we just haven’t scored tries in second halves.
"We had confidence but we just didn't show it today."
The Dragons got over the line five times in the first half against the Warriors, but had three possible tries denied by the bunker, which seemed to dent their confidence.
While frustrated with the situation, Faifai Loa said the disallowed tries are no excuse for the Dragons going into their shell in attack.
"Even if it did we still should have backed ourselves to score more points. Obviously we didn't, our heads were down and they ended up scoring more tries on us after that," the former Gold Coast Titan said.
"Energy throughout the whole team wasn't there, we had little patches where someone would come and give us some energy, but throughout the whole game we didn't do it."
Hooker Siliva Havili, who was playing his first game at Mt Smart Stadium since departing the Warriors last year, also pointed to untimely mistakes as a big reason the Dragons weren’t able to fire a shot in the second period.
St George Illawarra made 11 errors – one less than the Warriors – but several of them came while they were inside the opposition 20 and building attacks, meaning they constantly let the Warriors off the hook defensively.
"It was a bit of a weird game… we were in the battle but we just couldn't get there," Havili told NRL.com.
"Errors are letting us down at crucial moments and we continually gave them possession in 'good ball' situations.
"The more tackles we made the more energy we were using and it just compiled."
Havili also spoke about his former teammates Bodene Thompson, Manu Vatuvei, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Albert Vete and Konrad Hurrell, who were all stood down for the match after failing to meet team standards during the week.
As part of the punishment all six were also excluded from representative selection for the Kiwis, Tonga and Samoa.
"I caught up with some of them on the phone and that and had a chat to them," Havili said.
"They are pretty down with what happened, it sucks, but hopefully they can turn things around and bring the respect back and move forward from it."