The pressure is on St George Illawarra star playmaker Benji Marshall to reignite his side’s NRL season after one of the most woeful periods in the club’s history.
The joint venture is on an equal club-record seven-game losing streak after their attack dried up to a trickle recently, failing to score more than two tries in each of their last six outings.
By his own admission, Marshall must shoulder some of the blame for their recent record and during the week he said their stuttering attack was partly due to his inability to manage the game and put his side in a good position.
Coach Paul McGregor has also called for more from his playmakers saying they had failed to play patient football.
“I think it’s about building pressure,” McGregor said.
“The better teams break you down over a period of time and not straight away.
“For us I think it’s really important we build pressure and we get our last tackle options right and they start in the correct field position, we get our sets right and just grind out some tough circumstances.
“If you look at Melbourne, they throw a lot of football at you and they broke us down once with a set play. The rest were off kicks or intercepts.
“So we’ve got to be more patient in what we do.”
While the Dragons’ recent run has been dire – they are still in touching distance of the top eight – the same can’t be said for Newcastle who they will meet at Kogarah on Sunday.
Since round 13, the two teams have won just one of 13 games between them.
During the week Knights coach Rick Stone paid for his side’s limp showing this year and was sacked, with interim mentor Danny Buderus to have his first game in charge against the Dragons.
Prop Kade Snowden said if the playing group does not react to Stone’s sacking this week, they might never turn around their slump.
“I don’t know if (the fans) expect a big turnaround,” Snowden said.
“But in our position, we need a big turnaround. I don’t know what the difference is but it might just be that change that we need to spark us.
“The way we’ve been training and the way Bedsy (Buderus) has been talking, it needs to start this weekend or it’s just not going to happen.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Dragons are the first team since the 2012 Brisbane Broncos to win six straight and lose six straight matches in a season.
* Gareth Widdop has been directly involved in more than half of the Dragons’ 45 tries this season.
* The Dragons have won five of seven matches at Kogarah over the last two seasons.
* Just three of the past 10 coaches to take over after a mid-season sacking have won their first match.