By Tony Webeck (NRL.com)
Dragons forward Trent Merrin has urged his team-mates to take note of the Broncos' defensive blueprint and rediscover the defensive resolve that served them so well early in the season.
A St George Illawarra attack stunted by the absence of star playmaker Benji Marshall spent large parts of the first half on Friday night camped inside the Broncos' 20-metre line but were continually turned away by unrelenting Brisbane defence.
With a ready-made excuse for a lack of points, Merrin said it was the ease with which Brisbane turned opportunities into points in their 32-6 victory that was cause for the greater concern.
Prior to kick-off the Dragons boasted the second-best defence in the competition and had conceded more than 30 points on only one occasion this season but after enjoying the lion's share of possession early, conceded the first try in just the sixth minute.
The Broncos opened the scoring from just their third use of the football through winger Jordan Kahu and had little trouble breaching a Dragons defence that had kept the Warriors scoreless just six days prior.
The next assignment for the Dragons is the struggling yet unpredictable Panthers at WIN Stadium on Thursday night and Merrin said that if they hope to make a dent in the finals series finding that willingness to work for each other in defence is priority No.1.
"I think it's just the will and desire to work for each other," Merrin said of the difference defensively of both teams on Friday night.
"We showed that in some of our games like when we played them in Round 7.
"At the start of the season we were doing exactly what they did to us tonight and we got away with the win.
"It's definitely what we want to do for ourselves but it wasn't to be for us.
"It just comes down to us doing our video and doing our game plan. We let ourselves down there at times, especially on our goal-line.
"We weren't looking up for numbers and adjusting to the shape that they were throwing at us and that let us down at times.
"It got frustrating at times (being unable to post points). It's a credit to the Broncs' goal-line 'D', they just kept turning in and turning up and that's what good teams do."
Rather than dwell on a 62-point turnaround from the win over the Warriors to the loss to the Broncos, both Merrin and coach Paul McGregor said it was a performance they would look to soon forget.
"We've got another game on Thursday night so it's about taking a few positives and working on the things that weren't good for us tonight," McGregor said.
"If we look too deep into tonight we can't move on from it. We got our kick-chase going well and field position, we just couldn't get across the stripe."
Added Merrin: "I think we just forget about that one now, throw it on the back-burner and just concentrate on us.
"That's what we did great last week and in the second half against Newcastle Knights and that's what we have to buy into. Work as a unit and keep working for each other.
"It doesn't help losing one of our playmakers in Benji but it's something we have to go back to the drawing board and work on."