St George Illawarra's miserable NRL season has taken another hit with the Sydney Roosters all but ending their finals hopes in Toowoomba.
Fighting for their season on Sunday, the Dragons ran in three straight tries to hold a 16-14 lead with 26 minutes to play before the Roosters steamrolled their way to a 40-22 win to move back into the top four.
Tries to Josh McGuire, Mikaele Ravalawa and Mat Feagai had the Dragons daring to dream before the Roosters hit back with four tries to drown out their hopes with two rounds to play.
It was a sixth straight loss for the Dragons who were in the top eight from round three until slipping out a month ago.
Now two points out of the top eight with a concerning points differential, the Dragons need to win games against North Queensland and South Sydney and hope other results fall their way to make the top eight.
"We just dust ourselves off and get ready to go to Rockhampton to play the Cowboys," said Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
"Today at 16-14 we had our destiny in our own hands and we need to finish that game off.
"What miracles or equations there are now (to make finals) I'm not too concerned about, we just need to get on with our game next week."
Roosters skipper James Tedesco was the main source of the Dragons' pain with a phenomenal first-half performance, racking up 191 running metres, five-tackle breaks and three try assists in the first 40 minutes alone.
"It's a habit," said Roosters coach Trent Robinson of Tedesco's consistency.
"It's marvellous but it's a habit."
The star fullback threw the last pass for Egan Butcher, Sitili Tupouniua and Dale Copley tries as the Roosters went up 14-0 late in the first half before he helped the Dragons get on the board too.
With opposite No.1 Matt Dufty charging at the line, Tedesco raked the ball out of his grip to save a try but the loose ball was pounced on by waiting Dragons forward McGuire.
The opportunistic four-pointer put the Dragons behind by eight heading into the second half, a gap that narrowed and was then overtaken when Zac Lomax laid on tries for Ravalawa and Feagai early after the break.
A late try to livewire Jayden Sullivan showed there is life in the Dragons' future, but it looks too late to save this season.
Too keep the competition guessing, Roosters' teenage halfback Sam Walker was moved to the bench with Lachlan Lam starting in the halves.
The 19-year-old played the last 38 minutes, scoring a try and throwing the last pass for the first of Daniel Tupou's hat-trick of tries.
It was another brave effort from Trent Robinson's men who played the second half with two players left on the bench after losing Adam Keighran (concussion) and Nat Butcher (knee).