Dragons look to end NRL campaign with upset Knights win

Ryan Carr says his St George Illawarra side are fully focused on ending their season on a high as they welcome a Newcastle side without some of their stars as they gear up for finals.

The Dragons go into Saturday's clash with the Knights on the back of five successive defeats but have been showing glimpses of form, with last weekend’s 18-6 loss to the Warriors in Auckland among their better performances of a difficult campaign.

Unlike Melbourne, Brisbane and the Warriors, the Knights have opted against full-scale changes for the final round of the regular season, despite having a home semi-final secured. 

Only centre Dane Gagai, second-rower Tyson Frizell and hooker Phoenix Crossland have been rested, joining superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga (shoulder) on the sidelines. 

Half-back Jackson Hastings (leg) has been named on the extended bench.

Carr, who will wrap up his stint as the Dragons' interim coach with Shane Flanagan taking the reins next year, said there was only one focus ahead of their last game of the season.

“Get a win - for us, for everyone, for our fans, for the players, their families, for everything,” he said.

“We've tipped a lot into the last two months of footy and made a lot of sacrifices along the way.

"We're getting some really good performances out of our team which is something we're proud of.

“We just want to cash in on it now and get to finish the season with a win and take some confidence from that into next year.”

Newcastle captain Ponga was not considered for selection after injuring his right shoulder in the Knights’ round-26 win against Cronulla but remains in line for their first final next weekend.

Carr, who’s been linked with a switch to Wests Tigers to join Benji Marshall’s staff for next season, said he hadn’t plotted his next career move. He remains contracted with the Dragons for 2024.

“Nothing has deterred me from coaching," he said of his stint in the St George Illawarra hot seat. 

"If anything it has just made me more hungry and more excited to do more of it.

“I said it from the start when I took over, it's my responsibility to focus solely on this year and to look after this team.

“I'm proud of how we've done it and how we have gone about our business but ultimately it's a results-driven business and we want to get a win on Saturday to finish our season on a high.”

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