Photo by Anthony Johnson copyright © nrlphotos.com:Benji Marshall gets a pass away.   NRL Rugby League, Round 26, Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle. Sunday September 7th, 2014

St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Benji Marshall admits there is a lot of positives to focus on despite the 40-10 loss to the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle on Sunday.

The Keebra Park junior concedes the preparation in the build-up to the final fixture of the season was mentally difficult with the prospect of a berth in the Finals already beyond reach.

Yet the pivot has identified the turnaround in performance made by the entire squad since the appointment of Head Coach Paul McGregor as well the number of junior players making their way through the ranks.

“We lacked a bit of intensity out on the field and everyone saw that,” said Marshall.

“It was difficult to get your mind right in the preparation leading up to the game knowing we weren’t going to make the Finals.

“That was pretty tough but I think if there’s one thing we can look forward to next year it’s that we’ve developed a lot of young guys like Drew Hutchison.

“The way we managed to turn our season around when we were in a hole, when Mary took over as coach, was a result of everyone becoming accountable which is also a big thing.

“We also started playing a lot more expansive football and looking forward, if we can get our combinations right through the spine, will go a long way towards playing Finals football next year.”