Dragons count cost of agonising NRL loss

Bruised, battered and beaten, St George Illawarra have been left counting the cost of a gut-wrenching 18-14 golden-point NRL loss to Canberra.

Coach Paul McGregor’s biggest worry will be the fitness of Russell Packer, who suffered a hip injury in the opening minute of Friday night’s clash at GIO Stadium and played no further part.

The star prop had a course of pain-killing injections but couldn’t get back on the park, putting him in serious doubt to face Manly next Sunday.

“First hit up of the game, right on the hip pointer,” McGregor said.

“He just couldn’t run after that.

“He copped a couple of needles to try and get back out there but they didn’t really do anything so that’s not a real good sign.”

McGregor is hopeful a nine-day turnaround could boost Packer’s chances of not missing a game this season.

“I’m hoping we work hard on him and get him back because he’s important to what we do,” he said.

Former Raider Josh Dugan will also be monitored after being knocked out by a Josh Papalii shoulder charge.

Dugan failed a concussion test, while Papalii miraculously escaped the sin bin but is certain to face scrutiny from the match review committee.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Dragons with Adian Sezer scoring a long-range intercept try moments after Dugan came off the ground.

McGregor said the Canberra’s next opponents Melbourne were likely to reap the rewards from Papalii’s probable suspension.

“There we a few decisions. I thought we were watched a lot, managed by the referees a lot where I don’t think the same concentration went on the opposition,” McGregor said.

“You lose a player out of the game and Melbourne get the benefit probably next week which is disappointing.

“With Josh, he thought he was OK to come back on but he got ruled out by the NRL.”

It’s not all doom and gloom for the seventh-placed Red V.

They have a favourable run home, with five of their seven remaining fixtures against sides below them on the ladder.

And McGregor was happy with the performance despite the loss.

“We just kept finding and our execution was quite good when we had the footy,” he said.

“Defensively we were strong, we just didn’t get the result.”

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