St George Illawarra admit they have massive problems, but an early season exit isn’t one of them.
The Dragons put in one of the worst performances by a winning side this NRL season in their lacklustre 19-12 victory over Penrith in Wollongong on Thursday night.
The 9145 in attendance had cause to demand their money back on the way out of WIN Stadium as both sides turned in dreadful, error-filled displays.
The Dragons committed 12 handling errors, missed 17 tackles and completed just 24 of 36 sets but still came away with the two points.
They went into the match needing a win to stay in the top eight but showed little desperation.
Five-eighth Gareth Widdop, whose deft kicking game in the second half and 76th-minute try was the difference, described it as “terrible” and a wake up call.
“We know we can’t be playing like that in the last two games,” Widdop said.
“We just have to forget about it and fix a lot of things.
“It’s just great to get the two points and now we can focus on the Gold Coast.”
Asked if he felt like they were still contenders, Widdop said: “We certainly are, we’ve just got to keep winning.”
The Dragons face the struggling Gold Coast (16th) and Wests Tigers (14th) to round out their regular season.
Their fate could rest with the NRL match review committee after Tyson Frizell, Jake Marketo and Euan Aitken were all put on report against the Panthers.
Frizell was cited for tripping fullback Will Smith in an unusual incident in which he appeared to flick his leg out behind him.
Penrith captain Jamie Soward was seething at Aitken after he appeared to place pressure on and twist the neck of Tyrone Peachey with his knee in a tackle.
Suspensions to Frizell and Marketo would leave the Red V light on for back-rowers at a key time of year with Will Matthews (shoulder) out for the season and Joel Thompson struggling with a hamstring strain.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor seemed unconcerned but conceded they may have a problem over Marketo’s alleged dangerous throw on Leilani Latu.
“I’ve seen Jake’s (incident) and it doesn’t look great really, we’ll wait and review that,” McGregor said.
“We’re not sure about Tyson’s and we’ve got questions about Euan’s as well.
“Certainly one of them, there’s a question mark over them, seeing where (Lanu) finished and then he went off the field. That wasn’t good.”