St George Illawarra forwards deserve credit: Paul McGregor

Dragons forwards Bronson Harrison and Trent Merrin wrap up Melbourne's Cameron Smith on Monday night. Picture: GETTY IMAGES.

Dragons forwards Bronson Harrison and Trent Merrin wrap up Melbourne's Cameron Smith on Monday night. Picture: GETTY IMAGES.

RUGBY LEAGUE

While most of the raps are being directed at the likes of Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan, Dragons coach Paul McGregor credited the club's maligned forward pack for reviving their finals chances.

Widdop and Dugan starred in the 24-12 win over Melbourne on Monday in a performance that greatly enhanced McGregor's long-term coaching prospects at the club, but the rookie coach says it's the men in the middle who've turned the tables for his side.

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"I know our middles are doing a very good job," McGregor said.

"It's 436 minutes since they let a try in through that middle third of the field.

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"That's a good stat and they're the same people who played six weeks ago when everyone wanted to say they weren't big enough, or strong enough or physical enough.

"They've stepped up, which allows the guys on the edge to play like that."

In what was their biggest test under the new coach, the Dragons produced their most clinical performance of the year, completing all but three of their sets in the first half before sealing the game with three second-half tries.

"Before the game we probably didn't know where we were as a group, " McGregor said.

"We lost a tight one to Penrith at Penrith, who are a top-four side, and tonight we played a quality football team and were 17 from 19 [completions] and leading 10-0 and doing it pretty comfortably.

"There was a patch there where we had to defend really well and we went nine from nine with the ball, which is important against a quality team.

"If you don't do that you get beaten because they've got players that are world class and they challenge you in every area."

The performance that strengthened McGregor's case for a permanent job came against the man the Dragons would most prefer in the role if he could be lured away from Melbourne, Craig Bellamy.

The Dragons launched a big-money bid for the long-time Melbourne mentor's services early last year before he re-signed with the Storm until the end of 2016.

"At the end of the day I've got another two years in Melbourne," Bellamy said.

"I've never broken an NRL contract and I'm not about to start now."

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