Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston.

Poor execution once again was the Achilles heel for North Queensland as they slumped to their 14th loss of the season on Saturday night. 

It has been a similar story for the Cowboys for much of the year, and coach Paul Green was disappointed they couldn't turn pressure into points against the Dragons when reflecting on the  24-10 defeat at 1300 SMILES Stadium.

"In some respects we just shot ourselves in the foot at times, we had worked our way back into the game and were on top,'' the frustrated coach said.

"We would then come up with a simple error and just release the pressure valve and then it would take us another 10 minutes before we would get ourselves into that position again."

Green is adamant the woes of his under-performing team are mental.

"You've got to focus on keeping things simple for individuals and get them to focus on their strengths," he said.

Captain Johnathan Thurston was pleased with his team's desire across 80 minutes, and wants them to build on it over the next six rounds.

"Our effort was great even though it lacked concentration in some areas, I can't fault them, the boys really busted their rear ends out tonight," he said.

"All I can ask of the playing group is to keep doing that over the last six weeks."

Grand finalists in 2017, North Queensland are now locked in a three-way battle to avoid the wooden spoon with Parramatta and Canterbury, with all clubs on 10 competition points.

This season will also be the first time the Cowboys will finish outside the top eight since 2010.