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Dragons back-rower Tyrone McCarthy made his NRL debut against Wests Tigers.

A third straight loss has seen St George Illawarra slip out of the NRL top eight but coach Paul McGregor has pleaded for patience, saying there are reasons behind their recent struggles as well as positives to be drawn.

The Dragons showed signs of improvement on Sunday afternoon compared to recent losses against the Titans and Sea Eagles, scoring the first eight points and starting each half with a dominant 10-minute period but couldn't sustain that pressure in their 25-12 loss.


"To start the game we had six from six [completed sets] and went to a nice lead at 8-0 and started to build a bit of pressure on them and then we touched the ball twice in the next 12 minutes and they came away with some tries," McGregor said after the game.

"Same as the second half, we had five from five [completions] and started to build some pressure and just didn't come away with any points. We got a bit frustrated and anxious down there in good ball.

"Statistically we were OK, they missed 40 tackles and we missed 22, it was just the ones that we're missing are leaking points. Their try line 'D' to their credit was really good. That's two to one missed tackles today more than us yet they scored two more tries."

Asked about the pressure piling up on the club from disgruntled segments of the fan base, McGregor added: "Last week we were seventh. We made the finals for the first time in four years last year.

"We're fourth in the club championship, our 18s made the grand final for the first time in seven years or something so there's a lot of things that are working holistically, it's just that at the moment we're not getting results on the footy field.

"We've lost three games, a lot of other teams have lost a lot more than us. I'm not saying I'm happy with that because I'm not, I want to win every game but at times you've got to go through some tough times to get some success. It's not always a straight line."

Some disruptions to personnel and changes off the field had contributed to recent attacking woes, McGregor added.

"We're going through a little bit of change at the moment in a few areas and we've just got to work hard," he said.

"There's other clubs that are below in the competition that are not getting any heat like we're getting at the moment but to be successful sometimes you've got to fail at different things and push through it and get it right."

Although the club has slipped out of the eight they remain just a win behind the seventh-placed Titans and can easily still qualify for the finals – if they get back in the winners' circle.

"That's another positive, we still can make the eight, there's a lot of teams that can't," McGregor said.

"We can, it's in our own hands… We can turn it around in a week, sport's an amazing thing emotion-wise, you can really channel it in the right way and get out there and prove a few people wrong."

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