St George Illawarra's Jason Nightingale.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor isn't using any excuses for his side going down heavily against the Storm.

 He might have been without five of his Origin stars but he called the 52-30 scoreline "a bit embarrassing". McGregor did acknowledge losing second-rower Jacob Host [shoulder] in the fifth minute was a big loss.

 "I thought we attacked well," he said.

"We had some really good movement with the footy once we got into any decent field position. Defensively, our right edge was affected a little bit by the interchange early, and it wasn't efficient enough after that.

"The scoreline kicked out a bit at the end, which is disappointing, a bit embarrassing, but if you look at the night overall, there was some good to take out of it.

The Dragons led 30-28 through Kurt Mann's second try but couldn't kick on to a victory.

James Graham went off with a head injury assessment too, but again, McGregor had faith in his players out there. 

"You're in front with 17 minutes to go, but then James went off with an HIA, which is pretty important when you've already lost your four [Origin] forwards that didn't start.

"And when you lose obviously another senior player at that time on the field, when you need them out there to close the game out, yeah of course..[there's disruption].

"But I'm not going to use any of that as an excuse. These blokes have been preparing and waiting for that opportunity for a very long time, and that's when everyone needs to be able to be a little bit better."

McGregor reserved some praised rookie halfback Darren Nicholls, who was playing his first Telstra Premiership game at age 29.

"He had a mixed game, didn't he. It was a good opportunity for a good person. With ball in hand, he looked pretty good at times. Defensively, he was on that right edge and he lost his backrower early, which was very hard in that situation.

 "Overall it's a night he will remember."

Dragons skipper Gareth Widdop says conceding a half-century of points isn't good enough and they need to bounce back quickly.

 "It was tough. Our attack was quite good to be honest. To score 30 points, you should be winning games," Widdop said.

"That's the disappointing thing. Defensively we were good - but to concede 50 points is not what we're about. It's something we need to look at. We need to correct pretty quickly."