St George Illawarra have overcome the early loss of playmaker Benji Marshall to thrash an abject Warriors 36-0 in Wellington.
Hooker Mitch Rein stepped up with a brilliant game in the absence of the veteran halfback, who limped off in the 16th minute. Moments earlier, Dragons centre Will Matthews also departed with a dislocated shoulder.
The loss of personnel didn’t affect the visitors, who outclassed the Warriors in all departments, scoring six unanswered tries.
Four of them came in the third quarter, opening up the home defence effortlessly with some slick tries to defy the freezing, wet conditions.
The only thing colder was the Warriors attack.
Clearly missing injured playmaker Shaun Johnson, they lacked fluidity throughout in a fumbling performance which further dents the play-off hopes that looked so solid before embarking on their current four-game losing streak.
The Warriors will be two points outside the top-eight with four rounds remaining but their form and a bleeding points differential suggests there will be no post-season.
Adding to their woes was the exit of winger Manu Vatuvei, clutching a shoulder in the closing stages.
The Dragons ended a seven-game losing streak last week against the Knights and Saturday’s result should keep them ensconced in seventh.
Wing Justin Hunt crossed early through a Marshall cut-out pass which looked suspiciously forward before Rein stretched over for their second.
Livewire hooker Rein came alive after the break, firstly delivering a deft cross-kick which was claimed spectacularly by Jake Marketo.
A Rein break from 60m out put Euan Aitken clear before he sent fellow-centre Peter Mata’utia over in the try of the game.
Gareth Widdop stepped around struggling opposite Chad Townsend for an easy try, adding to the Englishman’s 16-point haul.
Tyson Frizzell scythed over before the Dragons’ final points came from two Widdop penalties as hail pelted down.
The win is the 11th in succession for the Dragons over the Warriors, improving their overall record to 19 wins from 23 in one of the NRL’s more lop-sided relationships.
It was another forgettable Warriors visit to Wellington, where they have lost seven of eight games.