St George Illawarra's finals chances have virtually been extinguished after their sixth straight loss but the emergence of young stars is giving coach Anthony Griffin hope for next year.
Anthony Griffin praised the resilience of his side to overcome an awful start against the Roosters in Toowoomba on Sunday to briefly lead in the second half before a late fade-out led to a 40-22 loss.
Their 2021 campaign has also fallen away dramatically and they need to beat the Cowboys and Rabbitohs in their final two matches and have other results go their way to sneak into the finals from here.
"I don't know, we'll just dust our selves off and get ready to go to Rockhampton and play the Cowboys," Griffin said.
"Today at 16-14 we had our destiny so to speak in our own hands and needed to finish that game off, what the miracles or equations are now I'm not too concerned about, we just need to get on with our game next week."
Match Highlights: Dragons v Roosters
The Dragons were outclassed in both the early and late stages of their loss to the Tricolours but a three-try burst either side of half-time had them ahead at one stage which was an achievement in itself after trailing 14-0.
Young halfback Jayden Sullivan had a fine first outing as a dummy-half off the bench while fellow teenage playmaker Talatau Amone was again excellent as he made his debut NRL start in the halves.
"I was really proud of the way they came back - we had to do the majority of defence in the first half, the first 20 or 30 minutes but to come back from 14-0 down and lead 16-14 I thought was an enormous effort," Griffin said.
The Dragons score from the 20m tap
"I thought Sullivan was enormous, he played 65 minutes in the middle.
"They found him in defence and picked him out a bit but it's the first time he's played hooker.
"[Corey] Norman tried hard all day. Unfortunately we weren't strong enough to go on with that scoreline.
"I thought Amone was really strong today, they put a lot of pressure on him at times. Defensively like any young guy who defends on an edge he's got plenty of work to do but he's got enormous talent … I thought Sully did a really good job in his first crack at hooker today."
Griffin felt the early defensive pressure the team had to soak up took a toll as the match wore on.
"The start we had it was always going to drain the juice out of you when you do that much defence early," he said.
Sullivan backs up through the middle for his first NRL try
"We needed to finish the game with the ball in our hands or at least an even share but that didn’t happen. They went up a gear to their credit and put a long of pressure on us.
"We coughed up a couple of balls in our own end and unfortunately it got away from us which was a shame, I don’t think we deserved that scoreline our guys, I thought they did a great job to get themselves back in the contest but the Roosters were too good."