Playing to kick clear of the club's first wooden spoon since 1938, the Dragons proved too strong, posting a 12-0 lead at half time to rattle an error-ridden Eels outfit.
With just one round of the minor premiership to go, the result sees the Eels surrender a home semi-final and slip to sixth spot on the ladder after a top four spot beckoned prior to kick off tonight.
The Dragons enjoyed ample possession and field position for the opening 20 minutes before five eighth Rangi Chase ran in support of centre Mark Gasnier to score under the posts.
The second half saw the Eels step up a gear with lock forward Feleti Mateo crashing over in the 60th minute to peg Saints back to a six point lead.
With an arm wrestle developing in the final stages it was the Dragons who kept their composure, Soward kicking a long range penalty goal with just two minutes remaining.
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Healthy crowd on hand in Wollongong. Eels are playing to maintain their position in the top eight and the Dragons are playing to avoid the wooden spoon. Dragons have named Mark Gasnier in the centres and Rangi Chase at five eighth.
4 min: Dragons denied a try after obvious obstruction is ruled.
INJURY - Parramatta's Chad Robinson looks to have dislocated a shoulder and has gone to the sheds for a check up.
11 min: Possible Try to Dragons. Video ref looking to see if back rower Corey Payne was held up. VERDICT: Ref's call and HELD UP.
15 min: Possible try to Dragons. Video ref looking at grounding from fullback Josh Morris. VERDICT: NO TRY. Morris knocks on and the Eels survive again. It has been sustained pressure from the Dragons and the Eels have turned the ball over a few times but have defended well.
20 min: INJURY - A stretcher has been called for Parramatta forward Ian Hindmarsh who has been knocked senseless after trying to tackle Dragons centre Chase Stanley. Meanwhile Chad Robinson looks a good chance to come back on. As expected, Ian Hindmarsh has been stretchered off.
21 min: INJURY - Dragons forward Adam Peek has gone down with what looks like a shoulder or head injury. Trainers are on. Peek is given the green light and its play on.
23 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Rangi Chase scores under the posts after Mark Gasnier makes a bust on his own side of half way, in open space with Chase backing up. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
24 min: INJURY NEWS - Ian Hindmarsh reportedly being checked for a neck injury, not concussion. Robinson back on the field.
26 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Set move for winger Jason Nightingale who scores out wide after halfback Jamie Soward chip kicks over to the flank from 21m out. Sideline conversion attempt by Soward is straight over the black dot. St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
29 min: INJURY - Dragons centre Mark Gasnier getting treatment for an injury to the nose/eye after copping a heavy tackle. Things are heating up. Gasnier leaves the field after being called off by the trainer.
31 min: ON REPORT - Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels) for a lifting tackle.
35 min: Eels finally getting some possession and field position and are on the attack, only to see another turnover thanks to a questionable call from the ref.
Half time: Dragons 12-0 A scrappy first half but the Dragons have dominated possession and field position for the most part. Eels a little unlucky late in the half after the ref incorrectly ruled a forward pass, killing off any opportunity. A tough encounter and some heavy tackles coming in. Eels backrower Nathan Hindmarsh ON REPORT and may come under further scrutiny for lifting tackles on a couple of occasions.
Dragons kick off and the second half is underway....
45 min: Dragons take up where they left off in the first half with repeat sets at the Parra line. Top notch defence from the Eels but again they let themselves down with a poor completion rate.
48 min: Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne just short of the line but pulled back after a forward pass is ruled. 50/50 at best and Parra starting to gain some momentum.
60 min: Possible try to the Eels... Video ref looking.... VERDICT.... 60 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Lock forward Feleti Mateo on the burst from close range crashes over and momentum carries him across the line, no double movement. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 12-6
65 min: Final 15 mins now and Saints leading by just a converted try. A real arm wrestle has developed. This match is up for grabs.
75 min: It has been a game of force'ems back for the last 10 minutes. Dragons now with the ball with only 5 minutes remaining.
78 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons Jamie Soward from 42m out kicks the match winner. Eels penalised for holding down. St George Illawarra Dragons 14-6
Full time: Dragons run out 14-6 winners. Eels made a game of it at stages but were ultimately outplayed. A big first half from Saints should see them avoid the wooden spoon. The Eels needed a win to maintain a top 4 position and now find themselves in sixth spot and a must win situation for next weekend.