Dragons out to ditch faders tag in NRL

The Dragons are desperate to spike their trend of fading out of NRL games after halftime.
The Dragons are desperate to spike their trend of fading out of NRL games after halftime.

St George Illawarra have frequently been labelled faders over the last several NRL seasons - but now it's for a completely different reason

Heading into Sunday's clash with Newcastle, Dragons coach Paul McGregor has been forced to deal with several headaches this week, the largest being the on-going saga of suspended back-rower Jack de Belin.

However, a good chunk of his week has been spent addressing his side's recent penchant for waning in the second half of matches.

Against Parramatta, they gave up a 14-0 lead to lose 32-18 and last week the Warriors scored 20 unanswered second-half points to win 28-16.

"We lose a lot of momentum after an error or a penalty, we need to gain that back through our defence and our attitude," McGregor said.

"We've got a lot of youth out there, there's a lot of experience sitting on the sidelines. It's about learning from the errors and improving from them.

"The last two weeks ... there's a lot of good in what we've done. To lead two sides by that scoreline tells you that. It's about being consistent."

Over the past few seasons the Dragons have been described as "May premiers" for their tendency to come out of the blocks strong in the opening rounds, only to fall in a heap post-Origin.

But this year their problems with consistency have taken on a different shape.

According to Fox Sport Stats, the Dragons are one of the best sides in the competition in the opening 40, scoring the third most points (10.4 per game) and letting in the third fewest (7.3).

But in the second half they score the fourth fewest (7.9) and concede the second most (13.3).

"We've got to stick to the game plan for the full 80 minutes.

"Defensively our attitude has to be one of help each other out and work harder in times that it's needed."

Both McGregor and Newcastle counterpart Nathan Brown have named unchanged sides, with Dragons prop Korbin Sims failing in his bid to return from a broken arm.

"The side is unchanged due to the trust and belief I have in the players that led 14-0 against the Eels and 18-6 against the Warriors," McGregor said.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Dragons will be seeking to avoid a fourth straight defeat for the first time since they lost five straight in rounds 17-22, 2016.

* The Knights will be aiming to make it four straight wins for the first time since winning six straight from round 25, 2014 to round 4, 2015.

Australian Associated Press