Paul McGregor believes the occasion got to some of his players - and described the Sydney Roosters as the best team in the world - after St George Illawarra went down to the reigning premiers in their ANZAC Day clash.
The Dragons fell 20-10 to the Roosters in front of more than 38,000 fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
St George Illawarra trailed 14-0 at half-time before a brave second half fightback got them back into the contest only for a Roosters try off the back of a Dragons error coming out of their own end with three minutes to play to secure the result for the Tri Colours.
St George Illawarra were far from their best but, as they have many times this season, found a way to stay in the contest.
McGregor was proud of his team's effort in the second half but also gave credit to the Roosters who improved to an ominous 6-1 record to start the season.
"They're the best team in the world. You can't give the best team in the world that sort of possession. [But] I'm motivated by our second half going forward," McGregor said.
"They're a good footy team. I asked the boys to leave it all out there in the second half. And they did exactly that. I just want to know why that wasn't there in the first half. When we do our review I'll be looking at that.
"I know what sort of playing group I've got there. They're very hard working and understanding. They're a group that know when they've got to do more. It shows a lot of resolve and motivation going forward because our group will continue to grow.
"I think some of our boys got caught up in the occasion a little bit early. Once they let that go and started to play footy it was a different story in that second half.
"[ANZAC Day] brings out the best in both teams. It's a game that puts you on the edge of your seat. Either team can win it going down the home stretch and that was on display tonight. Unfortunately the 14-0 start was too much to come back from and we didn't get any bounce of the footy today. They got a fair few."
The loss ended St George Illawarra's four-game winning streak and there is the possibility they could slip out of the top eight by the end of the weekend should Manly, Cronulla and the Wests Tigers all win.
But the Dragons will look to bounce back when they become the second visiting team to play at the new Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta. The red V take on the Eels in round eight next Sunday.