Are St George Illawarra in danger of missing the finals after Parramatta Eels loss?

St George Illawarra have now lost five of their past seven games and, as ridiculous as it sounds for a team that led the competition earlier in the season, now find themselves facing the possibility of missing the eight altogether.

The attacking flair and variety they enjoyed during their hot streak earlier in the season has been replaced with somewhat familiar predictability as they slumped to their sixth straight loss against the Eels in their head-to-head encounters.

Slowing down: The Dragons have lost five of their last seven NRL games. Photo: Getty Images

Slowing down: The Dragons have lost five of their last seven NRL games. Photo: Getty Images

The alarm bells started ringing at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon when the Dragons fell 24-10 to Parramatta, raising the question over the Dragons' finals credentials despite a strong opening to the season.

All of a sudden they have fallen to sixth position and now find themselves just two points clear of the ninth placed Parramatta.

What came easy for the Dragons for the first two and a bit months now seems difficult, almost as if they expect it all to come as easy as it looked when they were winning.

But coach Paul McGregor disagrees.

"Definitely not, they don't feel anything comes easy," McGregor said following the loss.

"There's a lot of talent there. Sometimes the confidence gets down pretty quickly but we have enough talent to do well in this competition. We just have to be confident about the way we go about it.

"The boys certainly don't get ahead of themselves, is that what you mean? No. Definitely not. It's the opposite actually. We just have to get some belief back there."

Granted, Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell would have made a significant difference had they not been across the road at the Pullman Hotel with their NSW Blues teammates.

But there is still plenty of cause for concern for the men in red and white. Thankfully, the NRL draw is quite friendly to the Dragons over the next eight weeks, taking on wooden spoon favourites Newcastle and the struggling Titans twice each in a period that also includes another bye.

"It's disappointing because as a group we've gone away from completing high and working hard for one another to just trying to score and put ourselves under pressure," McGregor said.

"It's a combination of a few things but putting ourselves under fatigue certainly doesn't help. We've had a bit of distraction over the past couple of weeks with players in and out and the bye. But there's no excuse there.

"We have to better. There are a lot of blokes who care in the shed. Sometimes when it happens you put yourself under too much pressure and you freeze a little bit. It's not one thing. It's a combination of a few."

In the opposition sheds, the Paramatta Eels were celebrating a return to the winner's board after an uninspiring outing against the Cowboys in Darwin the previous week.

Coach Brad Arthur made a number of positional changes before kick off, switching Bevan French to the wing to accommodate Gutherson's never-ending shift through the Eels backline to fullback.

It proved a masterstroke with Gutherson bagging a double and French making a number of significant plays from the right edge.

"Bevan trained really well all week. He had the choice to sulk about it but he didn't," Arthur said of the positional shift.

"That's the sort of kid he is. He worked really hard all week at training with Jenko (Michael Jennings) on that right edge. They did a great job in defence and Bevan nailed a couple of big moments for us tonight. Maybe he was the difference in the game for us. He was really good. He put his body on the line. He's not real heavy or strong at the moment but his decision making was good."

The Eels have highlighted French as their long term fullback, but Arthur knows French is still developing and needs to get the red-hot Gutherson around the ball if they are to make a charge into the finals this year.

"In my view Bevan's best position moving forward is fullback but he's still only young and learning his trade," Arthur said.

"At the end of the day we just need to put the best possible team out there every week to win a footy game. Gutho is just a footballer and I don't know where his best position is to tell you the truth. You just need to have him on the field somewhere."