NRL St George Illawarra Dragons finally fire up for the finals

Don't put that red line through the Red V just yet.

St George Illawarra will head into this year's NRL finals series with some winning form after edging Newcastle 24-14 in their final game of the regular season.

The win elevates the Dragons to sixth spot and a likely elimination final against Brisbane, provided the Broncos take care of business against Manly on Sunday.

Unless the Broncos pump the Sea Eagles by 24 points or more, the Dragons will host Wayne Bennett's side either at Allianz Stadium or ANZ Stadium.

If Brisbane make up the points differential, they will steal home ground advantage.

But if they fall to a stunning upset, then Paul McGregor's side will host the Warriors and the Broncos travel to Penrith in the other sudden-death clash.

In any case, the Dragons finally ended a horror stretch of six defeats in eight games with a tense ten-point win over the Knights on their annual old boys' day.

A week after their humiliating loss to Canterbury, the Dragons showed plenty of grit to comeback from eight points down at the break at McDonald Jones Stadium.

McGregor hailed a defence that was tested by 50 plays inside their 20-metre zone compared to just 12 down the other end.

"I thought our goal-line D was exceptional. I thought our line speed was good all game, it got them out of trouble a fair bit," McGregor said.

"The effort there and energy and intent across the board was very pleasing."

Prop Jeremy Latimore started the comeback when he dragged three defenders over in the 47th minute, before Nene Macdonald finished off a 70-metre break to reclaim the lead.

The result appeared to be sewn up when Matt Dufty showed his set of wheels on a 90-metre dash to the line, although a late Ken Sio try set up a grandstand finish.

The Knights looked to have consigned the Dragons to another defeat when Mitch Barnett picked up a bomb dropped by Dufty, but the bunker found a dubious knock-on in the lead-up.

Knights coach Nathan Brown was unhappy with the decision.

"I thought it was a bit stiff. The game's become too difficult for the referees. You got all these rules committees. The referees, they don't know whether they're coming or going," he said.

"Half of them wouldn't know what the genuine rules of the game are sometimes because they get changed on them all the time. They get instructed to do this, instructed to do that."

Dragons winger Jordan Pereira then sealed the win in the 79th minute, setting up the joint venture for just their second playoffs visit in seven years.

Dufty and Macdonald were easily the Dragons' best against the Knights, combining for 423 metres and 16 tackle busts between them to go with their two tries.

The loss for the Knights means they end the season with nine wins and a likely 11th-place finish should Canterbury go down to Cronulla on Sunday.

It also ends a run of three straight wooden spoon finishes.