The Dragons are coming off their first loss of the season against a spirited Warriors side, however, will have lost no admirers with the Warriors starting so strong and the Dragons never backing down. The entire team has enjoyed a fast start to the season playing to their strengths and winning by large scores to winning gritty.
The Roosters have been a mixed bag this season winning four from seven, fancied as premiership contenders, that tag has taken a blow with the emergence of the Warriors and Dragons and their underwhelming start. Lost to their biggest nemesis in the Rabbitohs and will be keen to get one against another traditional rival in the Dragons. Their last match against the Bulldogs was one for the purists and displayed the trust and fight in the team keeping the Bulldogs to nil with Matterson making 63 tackles.
Anzac Day lifts both sides meaning this match is marked on the calendar by most players on participating sides at the beginning of each year. A special occasion and an honour with Origin-like intensity one not to be missed!
2017 - Round 8 - Sydney Roosters 13 def. St. George Illawarra Dragons 12 at Allianz Stadium
2016 - Round 24 -Sydney Roosters 42 def. St. George Illawarra Dragons 6 at Allianz Stadium
2016 - Round 8 - St. George Illawarra Dragons 20 def. Sydney Roosters 18 at Allianz Stadium
2015 - Round 15 - Sydney Roosters 19 def. St. George Illawarra Dragons 14 at Allianz Stadium
2015 - Round 8 - St. George Illawarra Dragons 14 def. Sydney Roosters 12 at Allianz Stadium
Last year during Mitchell Pearce's resurrection from off-field drama it was the Pearce led Roosters that won a first Anzac Day clash since 2014 in a Golden Point epic played out in front of 40,000 fans. So whilst it is the Roosters with the slender 3-2 advantage over the last five clashes the Dragons go in as favourites and with a team in a much stronger vain of form to their Sydney counterparts.
These clashes have typically gone down to the last second with never say die tries overturning seemingly unassailable leads. None of these clashes are played at the Dragons traditional local home grounds, however, the atmosphere and rival in the Roosters mean it matters little.
|St George Illawarra Dragons||Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks|
|1||Matthew Dufty||James Tedesco|
|2||Nene MacDonald||Joseph Manu|
|3||Euan Aitken||Latrell Mitchell|
|4||Tim Lafai||Mitchell Aubusson|
|5||Jason Nightingale||Blake Ferguson|
|6||Gareth Widdop (c)||Luke Keary|
|7||Ben Hunt||Cooper Cronk|
|8||James Graham||Zane Tetevano|
|9||Cameron McInnes||Jake Friend (c)|
|10||Paul Vaughan||Dylan Napa|
|11||Tyson Frizell||Boyd Cordner (c)|
|12||Tariq Sims||Ryan Matterson|
|13||Jack De Belin||Isaac Liu|
|14||Jeremy Latimore||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|15||Kurt Mann||Sio Siua Taukeiaho|
|16||Leeson Ah Mau||Nat Butcher|
|17||Jacob Host||Victor Radley|
|18||Hame Sele||Frank-Paul Nuuausala|
|19||Zachary Lomax||Sitili Tupouniua|
|20||Mitchell Allgood||Kurt Baptiste |
|21||Reece Robson||Reece Robinson|
The facts that matter
St. George Illawarra Dragons
More of the same. That is what will be required to win against the Roosters their same has been sublime. Should they avoid getting frustrated as they did last week after being the better side, keep patient with strike all over the park personally I see the Dragons scoring too many for the Roosters to keep up with.
Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop will be key to victory and will be targeted all game. However their leadership, experience and knowledge of the game could see them run rings around a hot and cold Roosters side. If these two show up the forwards doing their job as always, the Dragons will win.
As one of the fittest sides in the competition and in my eyes one of the smartest the Dragons can outlast the Roosters by grinding their way to victory, forcing repeat sets and then running over a tired and depleted side.
The one-on-one battles in this fixture are endless however the one between Ferguson and Macdonald looms as one of the more intriguing. Both have had fine starts to the season with Blake almost a shoe-in for Origin. If Cronk brings his kicking boots Macdonald will be tested repeatedly with the high-flying confidence of Ferguson at the present moment, Macdonald will be in for a long afternoon.
Their forwards have been much maligned this season and will need to fire up against one of the best packs in the competition. If the forwards do their job much like the Dragons forwards the Roosters can cause havoc all over the field and put on points.
Showed against the Knights a few pet plays that can sting a side at any moment, flicking the switch to score two beauties. Again, more of the same Mitchell, Tedesco and Ferguson will be itching for open space and Keary and Cronk can lay it on a platform for them, a few set plays in what will be a bruising encounter could well blow the game wide open.
In what will surely be fast and frantic start that could see a battle of the fittest come the second half. I'm tipping another close, epic battle with the Dragons to bounce back from their loss last week and snare an Anzac Day win once more in front of a packed house, Dragons by 2.