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Dragons captain Cameron McInnes.

The spine is finally settled for Dragons coach Paul McGregor, who is satisfied he's found the balance that's been missing in Jack de Belin's absence.

Ben Hunt, having started from the bench since round five, made a successful start as St George Illawarra's run-on hooker in a dominant 34-4 win against Manly on Sunday.

The playmaker kicked wonderfully at Netstrata Jubilee Oval, often into open space, and steered the ship while workhorse captain Cameron McInnes had no issues punching out 67 minutes at lock.

"We need a long-minute player in the middle. We haven't had that for a long period of time because Jack hasn't been here," McGregor said.

"The interchange works a lot better with bringing the bigs [middle forwards] off a bit earlier and making sure that they don't get too tired to be vulnerable.

"Because there are still a lot of players in that middle – Blake Lawrie still is only young in his career, Josh Kerr's only young in his career, Jackson Ford's only young in his career.

"Those guys you don't want to make vulnerable for too long and while we can rotate other people and leave Cam and Benny on the field for long periods of time is good."

Match Highlights: Dragons v Sea Eagles

Once touted for the NSW hooking role, McGregor believes McInnes's "game is expanding at [number] 13".

"He's getting in behind the ruck when he needs to get a quick play-the-ball for us, he can ball-play, defensively he's as good as any," he said.

"He's got a really high work rate, so he fits that bill well. And obviously nine for Benny, we get a kicking option out of there which was on show tonight."

Adam Clune and Corey Norman enjoyed their finest game as halves partners and McGregor said the former had gone a long way towards making the halfback spot his own.

The coach also praised the performance of prop Paul Vaughan, who made a game-high 237 metres, and winger Mikaele Ravalawa.

"He brought some shoulder pads with him tonight, didn't he," McGregor said of Ravalawa's several big hits.

"Mika's still only a young man in the game and he hasn't played a lot of footy. There's going to be really good nights – and tonight was one of them – and there's going to be tough nights.

"But you've got to persist with people like that because they are going to be very valuable to the club in the long run. He's starting to really develop and back himself and play error-free."

Lomax intercept seals the win for the Dragons

McGregor's future appears more secure now that his team has won three of the past five matches.

But the mentor deflected any talk about recent results proving that St George Illawarra's board had been vindicated in putting their faith behind him when the outlook was bleak in June.

"It's not about me, to be totally honest. I'm here to serve my players and my club and that's the most important thing," he said.

"I'm just 100 percent fixated on improving our place week to week and I've got good faith and belief in my players and my staff."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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