After losing 10 of their last 12 matches and plummeting to 14th on the ladder, the St George Illawarra Dragons know the next six weeks are shaping as a defining period.
Having endured a challenging season, a fighting finish with victories over potential finals contenders will see the team head into the off-season in a positive mindset, confident 2020 will be a more successful year.
But a meek exit, with five or six more losses will see the calls for Paul McGregor's head grow even louder.
St George Illawarra captain Gareth Widdop, who will depart the club at the end of the season, has declared the team will not be following that second path.
"On the weekend we lost on the hooter, which is disappointing," Widdop said. "We could've easily rolled over and keeled over, but we fought our way back into the lead, we just didn't get it in the end.
"We need to focus in the next six weeks that we're going out there and putting in a top performance and doing it for each other, ourselves and our fans.
"We're not just going to roll over and think the season's done and dusted, we're going to show pride and passion with what we're about and show what it means to everyone."
From the moment Jack de Belin was stood down in February, the Dragons lineup has been a jigsaw puzzle that McGregor has been forced to play with in an attempt to find the right pieces throughout the season.
Injuries and poor form have seen McGregor chop and change his backline on a regular basis, while young forwards Blake Lawrie, Josh Kerr and Jacob Host have also received more game time than previously anticipated.
With many questions over the team's best lineup set to hover throughout the summer and a number of positions up for grabs, the coming six weeks will provide those within the squad the opportunity to pull away from a congested pack.
For Lawrie, the key to ensuring he is able to climb above the crowd is improving his game every time he steps on to the field.
"[My goal is to] just finish off the year strong," Lawrie said. "I've played every game this year in the NRL, so it's been a big year for me.
"I still want to improve each game and take positives out of the game and work on my game each week at training."
The Dragons will get their first opportunity to play finals spoilers when they host Parramatta at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The match will be the first in Kogarah since round five and Origin star Tariq Sims said the side is expecting a mixed reaction from a supporter base that has been baying for blood in recent weeks.
"It's going to be a mixed reception," Sims said. "There's no doubt about it our fans are some of the most passionate in the game and they're very vocal as well.
"It's a very proud club, it's got a rich history, the fan bloodlines run deep in a lot of people's families. It's something I'm proud to be a part of and hopefully we can turn it on on the weekend."
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