St George Illawarra coach Steve Price said he was "very confident" about being in charge of the Dragons at the start of 2014 after the Red V sent their departing heroes out on a celebratory note.
Halting a six-game losing streak - the worst in the joint venture's young history - the Dragons snuffed out any faint hope the Warriors had of featuring in the finals with a gritty 19-10 win at WIN Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The retiring Nathan Fien and Matt Cooper - as well as the English Super League-bound Michael Weyman - all exited as winners in front of a moderate 9,022 fans. Another member of the 2010 title-winning squad, Matt Prior, also played his last game in the Red V.
And while that quartet won't be in Dragons colours next year, Price pledged to be at the helm when a cavalry of recruits arrive for pre-season training in November.
The club announced during the week they've commissioned a review of all football operations in the wake of the joint venture's lowest ever finish.
"I'm very confident [I'll still be coach]," Price said. "With a new recruitment drive going forward ... I'm definitely confident.
"We're a proud footy club, as Nathan [Fien] said, and we want to do better ... myself included.
"I have no issues with [the review] whatsoever and I'm under contract next year. I'll continue to improve myself which I'm certainly going to and improve our football club."
Josh Drinkwater, jettisoned to the Illawarra Coal League with Helensburgh earlier this season, snapped a 10-all deadlock inside the last 10 minutes with a beautifully-executed field goal.
A late Chase Stanley penalty and siren-beating Charly Runciman try sealed the win, condemning the Warriors to their 10th straight defeat in Wollongong.
"The disappointing fact is that it's not just about the winning and losing, it's a final reminder that our season has been determined by the frame of mind we show up in at times," Warriors coach Matt Elliott said.
"We are better group of people than that and we're a better team than that. We've got some work to do.
"It's 'we' not me or the team, it's something we have to work on together."
Fien was particularly inspired, creating havoc from dummy half when Drinkwater entered the fray before enjoying the final 20 minutes of his career on the sideline after a rousing reception from the western grandstand.
Weyman too charged head-first into the Warriors' defence inside the last two minutes before also being withdrawn by Price to much applause.
"That was an outstanding effort [on Saturday], it doesn't get better than that," Price said.
"We spoke about it all week and letting these great players leave on the terms they would want to leave in.
"They have been great players for our club, do a lot of work off the field, and are great family men. This is what you play footy for."
Nathan Green and Manu Vatuvei, who had enjoyed a ding-dong battle all afternoon, took turns in outleaping the other to leave the sides locked up going into the last quarter. But the Dragons, unlike so many other occasions this year, found enough to record just their seventh win of the season.
The Warriors clocked the first points after Vatuvei terrorised an out-of-position Green, filling in for Daniel Vidot who was dropped for being late to training on Friday, from a Thomas Leuluai bomb.
The ball cannoned off Vatuvei's shoulder and fell at the feet of Elijah Taylor who had the simple task of grounding it.
But a determined Fien fired the hosts right back into the contest, splitting the Warriors' defence and linking with Brett Morris and Charly Runciman who found the livewire Adam Quinlan in support.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 19 (Adam Quinlan, Nathan Green, Charly Runciman tries; Chase Stanley 3 goals, Josh Drinkwater field goal) defeated NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 10 (Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei tries; Shaun Johnson goal) at WIN Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 9,022.