He may have plenty of excuses but St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin didn't offer any after their top eight campaign took a hit, stumbling to a 32-10 NRL loss to Gold Coast on Sunday.
The Dragons (8-10 record) have dropped to eighth and are looking over their shoulder on a congested ladder after dropping two straight to leave their finals hopes hanging by an ever dwindling thread.
They are among seven sides vying for the final two finals berths, and their task won't get any easier in a six-game run home that includes third-placed South Sydney twice and another three clashes against teams in finals contention.
Adding to Griffin's headache, he is still juggling bans for 12 players for a biosecurity breach after Paul Vaughan's infamous barbecue.
Five-eighth Corey Norman was the latest to take his medicine on Sunday, handing 19-year-old Jayden Sullivan his first run of the year.
Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono and Kaide Ellis returned against the Titans after serving their bans.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Titans
Griffin admitted they faced obstacles in the top-eight race but demanded more from his Dragons, no matter what line-up ran out on the field.
"Obviously it is a challenge but we have to be better than that," he said.
"It was sloppy from us. We played some reasonable football in the first half and got ourselves in a position to start to control the game but there are just too many errors from our own end, fed them too much football, they got their tries in soft ways."
Ramsey puts Pereira into space and he does the rest
He was left shaking his head after the Dragons were blown away by a fired-up David Fifita and debutant playmaker Toby Sexton after they had cut the deficit to 8-6 when Ben Hunt darted over in the 19th minute.
"We got ourselves in a pretty good position at 8-6," he said.
"At 8-6 we were entitled to be a lot better and we weren't. Whatever team we put out there we can't be making excuses for them - we have to be better than that.
"We have to win every game [to ensure finals]. Last week we put ourselves in a position to beat Manly.
"It is getting to the back end of the football season, we have to start winning some football games.
"Today we had a chance to win and weren't good enough."
Griffin expected Norman to slot back into his side next week against South Sydney but praised Sullivan after the young playmaker was thrown into the deep end.
Hunt is shooting arrows after he scores the Dragons first
"It's hard for him. He hasn't played much footy at all. It was a good opportunity to get him out there - he played 80 minutes so he will be better for it," he said.
"[Norman] has done his week now. I don't really want to talk about the team at the moment [for next week].
"We will just clean this up and have a look at our injuries and get on to Souths next week.
"[The run home] is tough but NRL seasons are tough and ours has been particularly tough with some of the things that we have had to go through. But it's only going to make us stronger and better. We just have to keep going with it."
Griffin said the Dragons would monitor centre Cody Ramsey who injured his wrist in the lead-up to their 76th-minute consolation try to Jordan Pereira.