The St George Illawarra women will play for pride next weekend after a tough defeat to Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.
Needing a win to keep their grand final hopes alive, the Dragons fell 18-4 to the two-time defending premiers.
While they struggled throughout the opening 30, St George Illawarra played like their season was on the line in the second half.
After scoring early in the second period to cut the deficit to 12-4, the Dragons looked set to run over the top of their rivals.
Having spent the first 15 minutes of the second half on the attack, it appeared St George Illawarra had broken through for a second four-pointer.
Jaime Chapman dived over in the corner, however further replays indicated the 18-year-old had dropped the ball, the bunker ruling no try.
The Dragons had a couple more scoring opportunities, Tiana Penitani denied by a desperate ankle tap.
Eventually Brisbane had a chance to attack, Lauren Brown diving over from dummy half to secure the victory and book her side a place in a third-straight NRLW grand final.
St George Illawarra coach Daniel Lacey was disappointed his side fell short, however he praised his players for their response in the second half.
"I challenged them at half-time to have that killer instinct and fight that little bit harder because I don't think we were too far away," Lacey said.
"We spoke at halftime about tipping them over the edge. As soon as we tipped them over the edge, we'd be able to get some momentum and flow.
"I thought once we did score there, the second half was ours."
The Dragons were battered and bruised throughout the contest, Kezie Apps injuring her knee in the 27th minute before Isabelle Kelly was carried off 10 minutes into the second half with an ankle injury.
Jessica Sergis and Maddie Studdon both played through leg injuries, the pair limping heavily during the second half.
Kelly's injury was particularly controversial, the centre grabbed by the hair before she was dragged down from behind.
Lacey was not happy when asked about the tackle.
"I've coached women's footy for a while and I've coached a lot of young girls. When you pull someone's hair, you let go. You don't go on with it.
"I don't think it's a reportable offence by the rules, but you've seen the consequences of what's happened.
"I've lost my best player, my best outside back. She's shattered. She's in a moon boot.
"Just let go, that's all that needs to be said."
The Broncos also endured a torrid run, Lavinia Gould and Jayme Fressard suffering injuries.
Fressard's departure saw Brisbane play the final eight minutes with 12 players, the side already using all interchanges.
Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili looked to have found some space when she darted from the base of the ruck on the last tackle, however the hooker was held up by the Brisbane defence.
From there, the Broncos gained the ascendancy, the defending premiers full of running with ball in hand.
After a couple of close chances, it was eventually Julia Robinson who opened the scoring for Brisbane following a superb Chelsea Lenarduzzi offload.
A second try to Millie Boyle, came 13 minutes later, St George Illawarra 12-0 down and with their backs against the wall at the half-time break.
The Dragons responded immediately after the break, Jess Sergis crashing over in the 32nd minute.
That, however, was to be end of the scoring, the side unable to break through for their first victory of the season.