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No finals panic for Dragons: Widdop

St George Illawarra skipper Gareth Widdop is expecting a strong response from his side after their shock loss to the Knights on Sunday. 

‌Newcastle's seven-point upset win has thrown a spanner in the works for Paul McGregor's men with the Panthers breathing down their necks on the Telstra Premiership ladder, now equal on 24 competition points. 

McGregor opted to call out the match officials after two controversial decisions went against them post-game, but Widdop was more concerned about the side's overall ball control throughout the contest. 

"[The calls] hurt but in saying that we take responsibility as well. When you're completing a just about 60 per cent it's not good enough," Widdop said. 

"We obviously can't get that game back now and have reviewed where we need to be better. I think it's pretty simple, our completion rates were low and against any team if you're not completing high you won't give yourself any chance to win games.

"It's gone now and there is nothing we can do about it. There is no point in dwelling on it."

After demolishing the Sea Eagles a week earlier, the Dragons headed to Newcastle with everything to play for and were expected to win comfortably – an added pressure that can prove costly when complacency creeps in. 

"It's obviously disappointing after the last couple of weeks we got back to the style we want to play," Widdop said. 

"At the moment it's two steps forward and one step back and we need to find that balance to play consistent football over the next five weeks because they're important to us."

Any talk the Dragons will miss the finals after the defeat in the Hunter were put to bed by the English international and with a favourable run home, playing finals football in September is in their own hands.  

St George Illawarra take on a struggling South Sydney outfit at the SCG on Friday before further clashes with the Bulldogs, Titans, Panthers and Broncos to round out the regular season.   

The Round 25 battle against Penrith looms as crucial in the context of the season, with the Panthers hosting the Red V at the foot of the mountains and out for revenge after their first round loss to McGregor's side in March. 

Widdop insisted there was no point looking too far ahead if earlier games weren't taken care of first.  

"We've got an important match on Friday night and that's the most important thing. We need to go out and put in a performance back to our standards," he said. 

'It's the old cliché of a week at a time but we need momentum going into the finals, we need stick to the process of completing high and turning up with the right attitude."

Meanwhile, Widdop confirmed Tyson Frizell would be right to play the Rabbitohs despite still struggling with a rib injury. 


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