Jess Sergis produced one of the finest individual performances in the NRLW's short history as St George Illawarra sealed their grand final spot with a gritty 24-16 win over Sydney Roosters, and footy legend Ruan Sims' career ended with a memorable try.
The victory put the Dragons level with defending champions Brisbane and the Warriors on four competition points, but a better for and against helped them qualify for next week's decider against the Broncos.
It capped a change in fortunes from 12 months ago when the Dragons were in an identical position but capitulated in the final round to hand the Roosters a spot in the inaugural final.
NRLW Highlights: Dragons v Roosters – Round 3
The first standalone NRLW game staged in Australia drew 2293 fans to Leichhardt Oval with the partisan crowd treated to a show.
Despite losing the game, retiring Rooster Sims had an incredible second-half highlight as she crashed over for an emotional try in her farewell game, before Sergis then helped St George Illawarra reclaim the lead courtesy of an 80-meter intercept try.
Sims was in tears as she was carried off the pitch by her teammates, and was embraced by her family.
"It wasn't the way I wanted to end it [with a loss], but I scored a try, I'm off the duck egg, "she told Nine after the game.
"It was a tough game.
"That's my retirement. It's a bit of a weight off my shoulders. I felt a bit freer.
"I really feel like crying at the moment. The reality has come in."
Dragons center Sergis dominated with two tries, a try assist and a game-high 191 run meters to all but book her spot in an Australian team jersey.
"I don't think she has any other level than full-on," said Dragons coach Daniel Lacey. "She gives it her best, she puts her body on the line, she's really brave.
"She's learning on the run and every time there's another level to get to, Jess just wants to do that and gets there."
The Jillaroos will be sweating on the fitness of star Roosters center Isabelle Kelly after she was helped from the field at halftime with a leg injury, putting her in doubt for next month's Test against New Zealand and Australia's Nines campaign.
Desperate to make up for last week's shut out, the Roosters applied plenty of early pressure.
The Red V had a couple of near misses when Shaylee Bent and Tiana Penitani had their efforts rubbed out due to knock-ons in the lead-up and they were made to pay when Roosters halfback Melanie Howard burrowed over to open the scoring.
It didn't take long for the Dragons to respond as Sergis produced a stunning one-on-one strip on Kelly and then sprinted 40 meters to make it six-all.
The see-sawing tussle took another turn when the Tricolors were rewarded with a four-pointer in the right corner to debutant Bobbi Law, only for the Dragons to hit straight back with tries to Penitani and Shakiah Tungai.
Having missed a penalty goal earlier in the half, Maddie Studdon made no mistake from directly in front to push the lead out to eight points.
"We disappointed ourselves the past couple of weeks so to come out and at least compete really hard like that (was pleasing)," Roosters coach Rick Stone said.