St George Illawarra have failed to live up to their goal of keeping teams below 16 points each game in their past three outings and they have paid the price.
They suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season to the Storm and the Wests Tigers over the past fortnight after getting out of jail late in Wollongong with a 20-16 victory over last-placed Parramatta.
NSW prop Paul Vaughan said the Dragons need to rediscover the defensive intensity they have lost over the past three weeks or their finals tilt will lose serious momentum.
St George Illawarra have allowed just five teams this season to score more than 16 points, with three of those costing them victory – two of those have been the try-fest two weeks ago when the Storm thumped them 52-30 and on Sunday when the Wests Tigers ran in four tries on the way to a 20-16 upset at Kogarah.
Over the last three games, they have averaged 37 missed tackles and 16.3 ineffective tackles.
Vaughan said their defensive structures would be revisited at training.
"Over the last two weeks the Storm and the Tigers have done that [scored more than 16 points] and they've won the game," Vaughan said.
"So that's something we need to get back to doing at training - we will be looking at video tomorrow and assessing that situation."
Fellow forward Tyson Frizell shut down talk around the Dragons again fading away in the closing rounds of the season as they have done in previous years.
He said the side's mentality has shifted this year and feels they are just one win away from getting back on track.
"Rightly so people can try and write us off, it's happened in the past - this time of year but now we are sitting in a different position," Frizell said.
"At stages last year we tried to find too many things of what was going wrong.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Wests Tigers - Round 18, 2018
"We've held our spot for a long time and we're not playing that bad of footy.
"A lot of teams are playing really well at the moment and I guess we're going through that stage where we are struggling to put 80-minute performances together.
"But we know what we need to do and we're only one good performance away from hopefully getting back to the footy that we know we can play."
The powerhouse forward said despite back-to-back losses, the squad remained in high spirits.
"We're still in a good position," Frizell said,
"We know we can attack with the plays that we do have - one of the areas we slacked off is our defence.[The focus] is definitely on the defence side and hopefully we can get back to that [early-season form]."