ST GEORGE Illawarra prop Paul Vaughan says the Dragons still have their sights set on a top four finish after re-igniting their season with a 30-point flogging of Manly on Sunday.
It was a return to the form that saw the Dragons well entrenched in the top four after nines rounds before hitting some mid-season wobbles.
Just three wins in 10 games saw the Dragons hovering on the edge of the top eight heading into the clash with the Sea Eagles, with the win giving them a two-point buffer from ninth-placed Penrith.
Only Melbourne, Brisbane and Cronulla have better points differentials than the Dragons. With winnable games against the Knight, Rabbitohs and Titans in the next three weeks, a climb back into the top four is not inconceivable – certainly not to Vaughan.
“The table’s pretty congested and I think we’re only a couple of points out of the top four,” Vaughan said.
“It’s obviously our goal to get there and we’re a good enough team to be there. We’ve just got to get the games together and have a good run into the finals.
“I’ve said before, you’d be naive to think you’ll go through a season near perfect. I think we were playing such good footy at the start of the season that people thought we were in a bit of a rut and looking back we probably were.”
The Dragons are also capable of missing the finals altogether and Vaughan said his side cannot take a play-offs spot for granted.
“[Finals] is not something we talk about a whole lot in-house, we’re more just looking towards the next week,” he said.
“It’s a cliche but that’s what we have to do because we can’t be looking too far into the future.
“We’re not safe to make the finals yet but, if we build some consistency and string some games together, we should be sweet.”
Vaughan was one of five Dragons forwards to run for over a hundred metres against the Sea Eagles, with lock Jack de Belin racking up a stunning 251 from 27 carries.
It was a return to the power game that spurred their strong start to season and Vaughan said it’s something his side will look to build on against Newcastle this week.
“At the start of the season we were rolling through teams through the middle pretty comfortably,” Vaughan said.
“I think we might have been going out the back a little bit and playing to the edges a little bit too much in that period when we weren’t winning games.
“I think it started for us again against Canberra [in round 19] wherewe got back to our power running.
“We know what works for us and the last couple of weeks have been that style of play.”