Widdop injury the main concern for Dragons after heavy defeat to Eels
The Dragons remain bullish about their chances of returning to the all-important top four in time for the finals despite copping a 40-4 thrashing from cellar dwellers Parramatta and sweating scans on skipper Gareth Widdop.
Widdop left the field late in the first half with a dislocated right shoulder that medical staff were able to pop back into place in the dressing rooms.
While St George Illawarra are hopeful the English five-eighth's injury is not a season-ending one, coach Paul McGregor could offer no further update on Widdop other than: "We will know a lot more tomorrow afternoon."
With the Dragons once more slipping into the late-season malaise that has seen them fall starkly down the ladder in each of the past three seasons, both McGregor and hooker Cameron McInnes launched on to the front foot when questioned about their top four prospects.
No team has won a premiership from outside the top four in the NRL era, and with this latest loss dropping his side to fifth place for the first time in 2018, McInnes vowed to prove the critics wrong over the last three weeks of the regular season.
"Individually we need to have at ourselves," he said.
"But we've got a great team here. People might want to write us off, but we're not fazed at all. We've got three games left and if people want to say 'it's scary not to be in the (top) four', well we will be back. We have all the confidence in the world."
The Dragons were never really in the hunt against a resurgent Eels outfit and did themselves no favours by conceding seven straight penalties inside the first 30 minutes, the last of which saw McInnes sin-binned for repeat infringements.
He said he had received prior warning from the referees, but neither he or McGregor looked to blame the officiating for the heavy loss.
Instead discipline will be a key focus for McGregor as he picks his team up to face Wests Tigers in a week's time, aware that the Dragons annual post-Origin slump will be the topic of unwanted media attention throughout the lead-up.
"You can't close down the environment around them," McGregor said. "What you can do is limit what they read and what they hear.
"We've got a few players down on confidence. That can happen. So we've got to make sure we manage that well, regroup come Monday and get to work because that's not acceptable.
"You're playing against a team that's running 16th and they've put a score on you so I'm just disappointed with some areas of our game at the moment that we need to fix."