The Dragons let in seven tries in a humiliating 42-18 loss to the Knights but somehow have to plug those holes before facing the line-breaking might of Storm next Sunday.
"We wouldn't have beaten Dapto today the way we played that first half," coach Dean Young said of the five tries conceded in the opening 40 minutes.
Three of those – to Kalyn Ponga, Aidan Guerra, and Daniel Saifiti – were from simple breaks through flimsy middle defence.
"It was just under-8s stuff. In the end they made 265 tackles and we made 406. So you're going to get some poor defensive stuff and fundamental errors when you're making that many tackles.
"But that's not an excuse. We are much better than that and the players know it."
Young was asked that perhaps the players' heads were already in post-bubble territory since they will be able to lead more normal lives after next weekend's final club game.
Match Highlights: Knights v Dragons
"That might be a question for them," he said.
"When you're letting in soft tries it's sort of a reflection of what the game means to you. Have we had enough? Or are we still wanting to fight to the death?
"Look, I didn't see it coming. I honestly thought we could win today. But the players are lacking a bit of belief so don't belief they can win at the moment.
"We've been losing for two years now so the belief is not there that we can go out and beat the top sides.
"But effort could be a lot better across the board."
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He did single out rookies Cody Ramsey, Max Feagai, along with first-grade regulars Zac Lomax and Matt Dufty as putting in the hard work in stages, but every player needs to be more consistent in rolling the sleeves up, which was not in evidence at McDonald Jones Stadium.
So now the last game approaches – second-placed Storm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
"We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves because I know one thing – Melbourne Storm aren't going to be feeling sorry for us next week.
"So we need to dust ourselves off and get ready for a game back home.
"It's going to be a challenge but we've got to put our big-boy pants on and get into it.
"I feel we've got a lot to play for and that's pride in the jersey.
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"I'll prepare them the best I can this week and expect us to come out and have a red-hot crack."
The Dragons could be without hooker-halfback Ben Hunt, who left the field with a right quad injury in the 58th minute and didn't return.
Young said he did not know how severe the injury was and if it would mean Hunt would moss the last round.