St George Illawarra coach Daniel Lacey was full of praise for his side after they emerged from a horror week to beat the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.
The Dragons kept their NRLW campaign alive heading into the final round of the regular season after they produced a stunning comeback in the final quarter of the match to win 26-6 in the standalone fixture played in front of a crowd of 2518 fans at Mt Smart Stadium, after trailing 6-0 with 20 minutes to play.
Before they even touched down in Auckland it had been a week full of drama for the Dragons, who lost big-name forward Teuila Fotu-Moala to a season-ending suspension and then key playmaker Kimiora Nati to illness.
Centre Stephanie Mooka also couldn't travel due to passport issues.
It only got worse on game day when an administration error resulted in prop Maitua Feterika being left off the squad list, leaving the Dragons facing the prospect of taking the field with only 16 players, before the issue was resolved five minutes before kick-off.
Match Highlights: Warriors v Dragons
"It's been one hell of a week at the Dragons … you could write a book just on this week, you really could," Lacey said.
"To get that performance, I couldn't be any prouder of that team and we are going to gain a lot of strength out of that.
"The proof is out there of what the team can do.
"I wanted them to get to the next level, they needed to run harder than they did last week [in the 14-4 loss to Brisbane]."
Lacey said despite the emotional nature of the game his side won't be happy with anything short of a grand final appearance.
A win over the Roosters in the standalone game at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday will likely be enough for the Dragons to advance to play the Broncos in the decider, while there's also a scenario where they could get through on points differential even with a loss.
"We were in this position last year … we're not just happy with that, we've got to win next week and get to that grand final and get one back on the Broncos," Lacey said.
"We go to another standalone game next week with a seven-day turnaround, we're back at home, I think everyone's fit in the room as well, so we use all those things as positives."
After being at the centre of the pre-match drama, Feterika emerged as the best forward on ground.
The one-time Kiwi Fern carried the ball 20 times for 191 metres, providing a key run in the lead-up to Tiana Penitani's try in the second half before scoring one herself.
Feterika pounces on Studdon grubber
"There were a lot of reasons for me to play hard today," Feterika told NRL.com.
"My family were all out here to watch, it felt good [to score] and I thought I did well. My attitude was just to do more and then do more again.
"It gave me some energy playing on home soil and facing some Kiwi Ferns teammates as well."
Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki admitted the pressure of playing at home may have got to some members of her side, after they gave up five tries in the final 18 minutes to blow a chance to book a place in the grand final.
"Perhaps because they just wanted to perform really well for their families it could have been added pressure that they put on themselves," Avaiki said.
"For them it was a big occasion where they wanted to perform well, and they feel a little bit disappointed by how they performed.
"They'll feel hurt now going away from that knowing that … they know they could have been better."
Leiataua forces her way over